alarm bells

Linda Moreotsene

Linda Moreotsene

Mamelodi Sundowns' executive technical director Ted Dumitru says they intend lodging a formal complaint to CAF over the abrupt changing of officials in their second leg Confederations Cup match on Saturday.

Sundowns, who take a 1-0 lead to Egypt's Hars el Hodoud, reacted with suspicion when they were informed that the referee originally scheduled to officiate in that match has been replaced at the last minute by Jedidi Slim.

"We find it strange that a referee can be changed because of what they call 'technical reasons'. We are shocked to learn about this change and we will definitely be taking it up with the relevant body and will lodge a formal complaint when we return from Egypt, where we will get to the bottom of this," Dumitru said.

"We have been given a North African referee, when a team from that region is involved. Teams from that region and middle Eastern teams regularly play matches together, and those matches are meant to build solidarity among Arab countries. Now, we have a referee who is in solidarity with the opposition involved in our match."

Sundowns were made aware of the change through a letter that, according to the Sundowns website, was signed by CAF general secretary Mustapha Fahmy.

Also, according to a posting on June 25 made to the Cafonline. com website, the previous referee, Bennaceur Kacem is Tunisian. But so is Slim.

Ironically, when the two teams met in the first leg in Atteridgeville a southern African referee - Angolan Martin de Carvalho - was in charge.

The Brazilians are taking 16 players to Egypt, and Dumitru reckons they have a 50/50 chance of upsetting the hosts in their own backyard.

"I believe we have players with heart, and who are capable of taking us through to the next stage. Things are taking shape and I am happy with what we have managed so far - me, Trott Moloto and the rest of the technical team. It helps that we have the same approach to football," Dumitru said.

As far as Downs' habit of choking when campaigning on the continent, Dumitru does not believe this is solely a Sundowns problem, but a by-product of the general decline in South African standards.

"This crisis not only affects Downs, as it is commonly stated. We are made to look like we don't know what to do with players, but the issue is really complex. Anyway, we will do our part to solve this problem," he said.