Zambian Fans Want FAZ to Petition FIFA over Nigeria’s Qualification

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Femi Solaja
Passionate football fans in Zambia are mounting pressure on the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) to protest to FIFA for a possible rematch of last Saturday’s World Cup 2018 qualifying game against Nigeria that the Chipolopolo lost 1-0.

This development is coming 48 hours after the world football body sent a congratulatory letter to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and 12 other countries that have secured qualifications before the final games of the qualification series in November.

Zambia needed either a draw or win to remain in contention for qualification for the first time in their football history but lost out via Alex Iwobi’s 74th minute goal to shoot Nigeria to her sixth appearance at the biggest football show piece.

According to the Sports Editor of Times of Zambia, Elias Chipepo in a chat with THISDAY yesterday, most fans of the Chipolopolo who watched the match live are of the opinion that their team was ‘robbed’ of a legitimate goal mid way into the first half that could have put them in great advantage of qualification.

“The fans no doubt are proud of the performance against ravaging the Super Eagles but felt shortchanged when the centre referee ruled invalid the goal scored midway in the first half. They now want FAZ to protest to FIFA on a possible replay in Uyo since Senegal has benefited from a similar scenario by ordering a replay with South Africa,” explained the Zambian Times editor.

Aggrieved fans just like pundits were disappointed in referee Joshua Bondo’s decision to cancel Augustine Mulenga’s 24th minute goal.
“Mulenga’s goal is a clear goal which could have stood but referee Bondo’s decision changed the course of the game for Zambia who secured home and away result against Algeria to raise the hope of their fans of making their first trip to the Mundial,” remarked Chipepo who was part of the traveling party to Uyo last weekend.

The controversial call which is just one of many in the ongoing qualifying series no doubt will further justify FIFA’s decision to test-run the Assistant Video Referee (AVR) at the last FIFA Confederation Cup in Russia last summer.
Already, Ghana has lodged a protest to FIFA over valid goal that was overruled by the South African referee in favour of Uganda.

Last month, FIFA ordered a replay of the World Cup qualifying match between South Africa and Senegal after the referee awarded a penalty for a nonexistent handball.
The referee Joseph Lamptey was banned for life due to his obvious match manipulation.
The then Nigeria Football Association (NFA) was on the wrong side of referee’s misjudgment in the past with the final matches of Africa Cup of Nations against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon at Maroc ’88 final match and Ghana/Nigeria 2000 as case studies.

Henry Nwosu’s legitimate goal against Cameroon in the final match at Maroc ’88 was overruled by Mauritania Idrissa Sarr who later in the second half awarded a controversial penalty kick against Nigeria scored by legendary Roger Milla as a match decider.

In the 2000 final at the National Stadium in Lagos, Tunisian referee Mourad Daami, overruled a penalty shootout goal from Victor Ikpeba to give Cameroon edge and the Indomitable Lions won the final match on penalties after 2-2 score line full time.
On both occasions, the NFA wrote a protest letter to Confederation of African Football (CAF) knowing fully well that the result cannot be overturned but simply for administrative purpose.

In the Europe qualification to South Africa 2010 World Cup finals, France legend, Thierry Henry scored a late minute dubious hand ball at Saint Dennis Stadium in Paris to earn the former world champions another ticket against Republic of Ireland whose FA protested to FIFA did not change the result.

Although it was later revealed in the last days of former President Sepp Blatter that the Irish Federation was paid same amount of money meant for all federations that qualified for the tournament.