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No doubt, it was sad and unforgettable experience for all Africans and global sports lovers who were watching the tensed CAF Champions League second leg final hosted in Tunisia between Junior Lokosa’s Esperance and Wydad Athletic Club of Casablanca (WAC) of Morocco. Observers say it is time to think twice on either the politics or true readiness of the continent in the use of trending football technology, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
The truth of the scenario was that for the first time, CAF Champions League second leg final ended interruptedly over the insistence of WAC players that the Congolese central Referee must go and watch the VAR over their cancelled equalizer at the 58th minute of the game or nothing.
However, when it was suddenly observed that the VAR has crashed, WAC players stood their ground that it is either their goal is allowed or VAR is visited to convince them before they can play again.
This argument lasted to the extent even CAF President and all African FA chairmen came into the pitch to mediate but all the WAC players and crew insisted that VAR must work or the game is postponed pending when the VAR will come alive again.
The waiting game lasted for more than one hour. Many experts called for official postponement while Esperance players displayed readiness to continue possibly because they were leading with first half goal and on winning range having forced WAC to a one all draw during the first leg.
Analysts arguing for WAC recalled that during the first leg, WAC suffered from VAR ruling which included a red card for their captain and out right cancellation of what would have served as their winning goal.
Unfortunately, yesterday, the same technology was said to have crashed when a goal that would have served as their equalizer was to be examined.
After failed mediations by even Nigeria’s Amaju Pinnick and other FA chairmen plus CAP chairman, the central referee unilaterally blew the final whistle declaring Esperance winners.
Rising from this experience, ICT analysts have raised serious questions on how this month’s CAF Nations’ Cup will go in Egypt with the same failed technology.
Several questions are on the table including did CAF actually deployed the best VAR technology? Why did the system crashed immediately the WAC goal was scored and about to be examined?
Who told the Central Referee that VAR has parked up that made him not to go to the device upon pressures from WAC players?
Did CAF technical officials check the system very well before the match? Why is it that there is no backup system for a whole Champions League second finals?
Was WAC wrong in insisting that VAR must be visited or they won’t play again?
And finally, how right were CAF and central Referee in ending the match and went ahead to handover the cup to Esperance? Is the ruling fair to the Moroccan team?
To Africa, is VAR now a blessing or curse?
Can it be better at the upcoming Nations Cup in Egypt or do we go back to the era before VAR technology?
These are the topical questions CAF must answer Africans and the global football community ahead of Egypt 2019 CAF finals this month.
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