Zakhele Siwela to run the line at Russia 2018

Zakhele Siwela during the Absa Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Polokwane City on the 14 March 2017 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
Zakhele Siwela during the Absa Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Polokwane City on the 14 March 2017 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Zakhele Siwela has been chosen to run the line at the World Cup and will be the only South Africa representative at the finals in Russia in mid-year.

The Soweto linesman was named by Fifa on Thursday among 36 referees and 63 assistant referees for the tournament after long and vigorous assessment

The 35-year-old Siwela forms part of a partnership with central referee Janny Sikazwe of Zambia and first assistant Jerson dos Santos from Angola.

There are just six refs from Africa and 10 linesmen at the tournament‚ which starts on June 14.

The 36 refs have been selected from an initial group of 53 when the potential candidates were first identified just months after the last World Cup in Brazil.

World football’s governing body said the final selection was based on each referee’s skills and personality‚ as well as his level of understanding of football and ability to read both the game and the various tactics employed by teams.

Over the last three years‚ preparatory seminars have taken place for referees and assistant referees focusing on fair play‚ protecting players and the image of the game‚ as well as consistency and uniformity.

Siwela was at a course in Dubai last week and between now and the World Cup in June‚ he will be monitored and supported by Fifa’s refereeing department to ensure he is fully prepared. Following that Siwela will also have to get through a final preparatory seminar at the World Cup match officials’ headquarters in Moscow‚ which will start 10 days before the tournament kicks off.

Siwela came close to being on the panel for the 2014 finals in Brazil but deemed to be too young when the final selection was made.

He is will be the sixth South African to officiate at a World Cup finals tournament‚ following in the footsteps of Jerome Damon and Enock Molefe were on the panel for the 2010 finals.

Achmat Sallie ran the line in the 1998 final in Paris when France beat Brazil and Ian McLeod and Ari Soldatos‚ also worked at the same tournament.

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