Matlaba red riles Vermezovic

SILLY: Thabo Matlaba
SILLY: Thabo Matlaba

ORLANDO Pirates fullback Thabo Matlaba was set to face an internal grilling yesterday and a possible fine from his club after a needless sending off on Wednesday night that soured celebrations for his coach Vladimir Vermezovic.

Matlaba was red-carded for stamping on Mamelodi Sundowns substitute Kudakwashe Mahachi in stoppage time at the end of the 3-0 win for the Buccaneers at Loftus Versfeld.

The defender now sits out their next two matches, against Polokwane City tomorrow and Bidvest Wits on September 13. He will, however, be available for the MTN8 final against Kaizer Chiefs a week later.

Matlaba went in with a nasty studs-up lunge on the ankle of the new Zimbabwean signing as the match ended in testy circumstances and with the somewhat bizarre spectre of the referee, Robert Smith being persuaded by Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane and captain Surprise Moriri to send off the Pirates player.

"I had to go onto the pitch to force the referee to give Matlaba a red card. They can suspend me, I don't care," said Mosimane afterwards.

Vermezovic suggested the sending off has tempered his delight at the unexpected victory

"I'm angry with Matlaba for an unnecessary red card. What was the point of stepping on a player when you are 3-0 up? We are going to discuss this and see what to do," he said, suggesting a possible dent in the wallet for the flying left back.

But he praised his side for "playing good football", although he suggested the result had flattered his team.

The quality of the finishing delighted the coach, who said: "I never criticised my strikers when they missed opportunities [in previous matches]. I said they [goals] will come. Fortunately they did, in a very important match.

"I didn't expect the result but I'm not a coach who plays for a draw, my philosophy is always to go for the win. But to beat Sundowns 3-0 away is unbelievable...

"Sundowns also had their opportunities to score and my colleague should be more angry with his players than he is with the ref," added Vermezovic in a little dig at Mosimane.