FKF suspends blundering referees as SPL enters homestretch
"Referee maliza game, time imeisha," an infuriated Sofapaka president Elly Kalekwa screamed on the VIP dais at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos, a minute before his former player Rodgers Aloro grabbed a last gasp equaliser for Tusker in a dramatic 2-2 draw on Sunday.
But as entertaining as the match was, the result left a "bad taste in Kalekwa's mouth "forcing the Congolese club owner to storm onto the pitch and vent his frustrations to centre referee Andrew Juma.
And four days later, three match officials have borne the full brunt of their poor officiating after the Football Kenya Federation handed them between three and four match ban.
FKF Ad Hoc Committee yesterday imposed a suspension for a period not exceeding three rounds of the league on centre referee Hosea Omondi and assistant referee Joshua Achila, while centre referee Collins Opiyo will be out for four rounds.
Achilla was reprimanded for two decisions he made in AFC Leopards’ 2-0 defeat to Gor Mahia on February 9 at Kasarani Stadium as well as in the barren draw match between Ulinzi Stars and Sofapaka on April 10 in Machakos.
Omondi was suspended for failing to send off Gor Mahia goalkeeper Shaban Odhoji for denying Sony Sugar a goal scoring opportunity by a deliberate handball outside the penalty area on March 3 in Kisumu. Gor Mahia won the match 3-2.
While on his part, Opiyo was faulted for awarding a questionable penalty to Sofapaka in their 1-0 victory against KCB played on April 14 in Machakos.
Back to Sunday’s match in Machakos, Sofapaka appeared to have secured the win and narrowed the gap on league leaders Gor Mahia (60) to five points only for Aloro to return to haunt them with a late equaliser.
The Ugandan’s equaliser came in the 97th minute, three minutes after the fourth official had indicated four minutes of additional time.
Kalekwa felt that Juma had denied them a victory after adding three extra minutes onto the four minutes of injury time hence giving the Ugandan defender enough time to score an equaliser.
It’s evident Sofapaka’s real frustration was caused by the sight of an SPL title challenge slipping away as they had once again failed to capitalize on Gor Mahia's slip up. K'Ogalo had been held to a barren draw in an early kick-off match in Kisumu.
“We are investing a lot of money in teams' preparation only for our efforts to be ruined by poor referee's decisions. I have never stormed on to the pitch, but his openly biases made me do so. Where did the three extra minutes come from?," asked Kalekwa.
And just like his boss, Sofapaka coach John Barasa's exasperation centred upon the length of time that had been added on.
"I understand our president's (Kalekwa) frustrations on how the game was officiated. The game was okay, until after the 90 minutes when the referee came to the fourth official and I heard him telling the referee the additional minutes had elapsed,” Barasa told The Standard Sports.
"But the referee responded by saying his watch was not functioning. So, I'm wondering where were the extra three minutes coming from? In football, every minute matters and those extra minutes he added have cost us dearly.
Today’s SPL matches
Sofapaka v Western Stima-Machakos (2 pm)
Vihaga United v Bandari-Bukhungu
Mathare United v Kariobangi Sharks-Kasarani
Chemelil Sugar v Gor Mahia-Kisumu (4.15pm)
AFC Leopards v Zoo-Machakos (4.15pm)
Sony Sugar v KCB-Awendo (1 pm)
Nzoia Sugar v Kakamega Homeboyz-Sudi
Ulinzi Stars v Posta Rangers-Afraha
Mt Kenya United v Tusker-Machakos
NB: Unless stated all matches kick off at 3 pm
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