By Goodwill Zunidza in Tunis
Esperance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(3) 6
Dynamos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(0) 0
Callisto Pasuwa called it the worst officiating he had seen in his long football career while Zimbabwean journalists here described the loss as Dynamos’ heaviest in Africa after nearly 50 years of existence.
Both statements may still not tell the full story of the catastrophic way in which the 10-man Zimbabwean flag-bearers collapsed at the hands of their more illustrious opponents Esperance who took a giant leap towards the mini-league phase after pumping half a dozen goals past hapless goalkeeper Washington Arubi in Saturday’s second round, first leg mismatch at Rades Stadium.
Guinean whistleman Yakhouba Keita threw refereeing ethics straight out of the window with a questionable first-half performance that almost caused a pre-mature end of the tie after Dynamos players threatened to walk off the pitch in protest over their hosts’ third goal, struck by playmaker Youssef Msekni while hard-working defender Ocean Mushure lay injured on the pitch from a foul the referee pretended not to see.
A three-minute man-made stoppage ensued with the situation turning nasty as players exchanged blows on the pitch while Keita failed totally to control tempers until club officials from both sides stepped on the pitch to help him restore order.
“That third goal killed us off. It was not supposed to stand as the referee had enough time to stop play and attend to Ocean. This kind of refereeing was worse than I expected although I had warned the players to expect anything. Some of them lost their temper and it was difficult to come back into the game after that incident, especially after we had a player red-carded in what was a better second half for us,” a bitter Pasuwa told The Sunday Mail in the team’s mournful dressing room.
Defence pillar Timire Mamvura was expelled from the game in the 70th minute for a second bookable offence after a late challenge on midfielder Majdi Traoui, having first been cautioned for sending Walid Ichri to the ground during the three-minute first-half brawl.
It was also admittedly a woeful performance from the Zimbabwean league champions for whom 94 minutes of play was not enough for a single shot on target, with just one corner-kick won late in the match and still wasted by taker Tawanda Muparati.
Although Esperance were also restricted to three corner-kicks for the entire duration, the Champions League holders created many holes in the middle, securing all but one of their goals from open play through a double strike by the supremely talented Msekni in the 38th and 92nd minutes, plus one each from his elder brother Iheb (83rd min), Cameroonian striker Yannick Ndjeng (76th min), Karim Aouadhi (14th min) and the opener by Ichri after only eight minutes of play.
The towering centre-back rose high to nod home Khalil Chammem’s free-kick from the right flank after DeMbare’s defensive frailty was exposed when they failed to clear their lines until Patson Jaure’s desperate tackle outside the box that conceded the set-piece.
With the home supporters pounding their drums even heavier in the terraces, and referee Keita ruling onside Dynamos players offside, it was a matter of how many minutes before the second goal came and come it did.
An off-form Washington Arubi spilled a harmless-looking ball from Ndjeng on the path of Aouadhi who had the simplest task of pushing the ball across the goalline for the second goal in the 14th minute.
Esperance scored the third goal in disputed circumstances as Mushure sprawled on the ground, but Msekni clung to possession and netted from a rebound after his earlier shot was punched back to him by Arubi, prompting Pasuwa to release reserve goalminder Phillip Nhete for an early warm-up.
Dynamos came back more purposeful after the restart but, with the damage already done, there was no way Esperance would let go and the period saw an avalanche of goals that matched the first-half scoreline.
Besides Mamvura’s misery, Devon Chafa also received a yellow card for rough play while Arubi was cautioned for delaying tactics, even with his side trailing 0-4.
W Arubi, G Bello, P Jaure, G Magariro, capt, O Mushure (A Mbara 50th min) T Mamvura, D Chafa, T Muparati, M Murape (M Vengesai 66th min), T Chinyama, R Mutuma ( T Mabvura, 50th min). Unused subs: D. Mukamba, D Kutyauripo, P Nhete.
Esperance: Moez Ben Chirifiya, Afful Harrison, Khalil Chammem, capt, ( Mohammed Ben Mansour, 64th min), Walid Ichri, Idrisa Colibali, Majdi Traoui, Khaled Mouelhi (Iheb Msekni 76th min), Karim Aouadhi, Wajdi Bouazzi (Idriss Mhirsi 27th min), Youssef Msekni, Yannick Ndjeng Unused subs: Wassim Naoura, Sameh Derbali, Khaled Korbi, Khaled Ayari.