Two SA refs elevated to Fifa panel ahead of Afcon in Gabon

Thando Ndzandzeka and Chris Harrison have both been elevated to the level of Fifa referee and will be included on the international panel from next year onwards‚ the South African Football Association’s referee boss Peter Sejake has announced.

For Ndzandzeka‚ it comes after several years of being overlooked and seeing a place on the elite panel being given to less experienced officials.

Both Tsepo Maila‚ because of ill-health‚ and Eketsang Setloboko‚ who has not had much time off work over the last year‚ drop off the Fifa list after brief stints.

Ndzandzeka‚ who handled the 2014 Telkom Knockout final and 2016 Nedbank Cup decider‚ had been a surprise omission in 2015 with a badge going instead to Maila‚ who had previously never even taken charge of a Premier Soccer League match.

For the 2016 panel‚ Ndzandzeka was overlooked again with a spot going to Setloboko‚ despite his PSL inexperience.

But Ndzandzeka is now finally up among the heavyweights‚ along with the up-and-coming Harrison. They can both wear the Fifa badge on their pockets from January 1‚ 2017.

South Africa’s other representatives on the FIFA referee’s panel for next year will be (in order of experience):

- Daniel Bennett (since 2002)

- Victor Gomes (since 2011)

- Victor Hlungwani (since 2011)

- Kulasande Qonqo (since 2013)

The country also has seven linesmen on the 2017 Fifa panel‚ dropping one after Songezo Xalakhe failed recent fitness tests.

They are (also in order of seniority):

- Zakhele Siwela (since 2010)

- Sandile Dilikane (since 2011)

- Lindikhaya Bolo (since 2011)

- Johannes Moshidi (since 2011)

- Stevens Khumalo (since 2013)

- Thembisile Windvoel (since 2013)

- Peter Chauke (since 2015)

Only Fifa-accredited referees and linesmen are allowed to officiate any form of international match.

They now wait to see whether any of them have been chosen by the Confederation of African football for January’s African Nations Cup finals in Gabon. – TMG Sport