On Saturday night football lovers were treated to a thrilling match between Gaborone United (GU) and Township Rollers. However, confusion ensued after 120 minutes of play as to whether there was a winner or the game had to be decided through a penalty shootout.
This was totally embarrassing especially after such a brilliant game. GU came into the match trailing by two goals after losing the first leg 2-0. The Reds managed to level the aggregate score. At extra time, the teams scored a goal each.
As the referee blew for time, the Rollers fans thought they had progressed to their seventh Top 8 final, but a shock of their life awaited them after it was announced that the game would proceed to a penalty shootout.
The decision did not go down well with the Rollers officials as they vehemently protested that they had advantage due to an away goal rule as it always been the ‘norm’. The match referee had seemingly blown for time, but it was the tournament’s organising committee who reminded the officials of the tournament rules.
According to the competition’s playing rules, the away goal does not apply in the extra 30 minute. Article 7. 2 of the rules states, “in an event the teams are still tied at full time on the second leg the away goal shall apply. If after the application the clubs are still tied, the game shall proceed
It is imperative that the Botswana Football Association, clubs, officials, the media and indeed the supporters familiarise themselves with competitions rules and regulations. The situation nearly got out of hand with fans misbehaving while it could have been avoided by equipping themselves and others with the tournament rules.
A police officer was assaulted by angry fans, something that should serve as a caution that nothing is to be overlooked as it could have been worse. In times like this, where it is not easy to court sponsors, we need to give them the best when they are on board. It does not look good for their brands.
Their name should be associated with the beautiful game and not the negatives. We urge all stakeholders, not just in football, but all sporting codes and indeed every organisation to know and understand the laws and rules and regulations of their organisations. As the media, we also should play our part and educate the nation on these issues. For us to do that, we need to do a lot of reading and researching.