Reports that Victor Gomes will referee Ghana vs Gabon appear to be fake

South African referee Victor Gomes.
South African referee Victor Gomes.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Reports that Victor Gomes will officiate in Ghana's 2021 Africa Cup of Nations game against Gabon on Friday night appear to be incorrect.

The website Soccerway.com has Algerian referee Lahlou Benbraham down to take charge of the crucial Group C game at Stade Omnisport Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaoundé, Cameroon. The website did not have Gomes down for any of the four Nations Cup games being played on Friday.

The unconfirmed reports that Gomes would officiate the Ghana-Gabon matchup, which appeared to emanate from some Ghanaian football news websites, had set Twitter alight.

Ghanaians met the news of a South African ref, and especially Gomes, officiating the game with dismay.

South Africans jested that Gomes should “do the right thing” and “not disappoint the nation”. This was in reference to the 2022 World Cup qualifier Bafana Bafana lost 1-0 against Ghana in Cape Coast in November, where the SA Football Association (Safa) took a complaint to Fifa over the controversial officiating of Senegalese referee Maguette N'Diaye.

There has been no love lost between Safa and the Ghanaian FA, too, who had a war of words over the match and subsequent protest, which was dismissed by the Fifa disciplinary committee.

The speculation that Gomes might referee Friday night's game even had South African former international referee Ace Ncobo — the author of a report on N'Diaye's officiating that Safa attached to their complaint — drawn into joking about the matter.

Ncobo tweeted: “Victor Gomes is doing the Ghana match. Do you have any message that you want me to pass on to him?”

The ex-ref accompanied his tweet with a string of laughing emojis, to clarify that he was joking.

SA Twitter user @LudakaSbusiso wrote: “Victor Gomes better not disappoint the nation”.

Ghanaian @coachelorm tweeted: “South African referee Victor Gomes to handle Ghana vs Gabon game tomorrow. This one alone dey make my heart cut.”

At least two websites, Sportsworldghana.com and Ghanaweb.com, reported Gomes was officiating the Ghana-Gabon game. Another, Sportsbrief.com, corrected those reports.

Gomes has a reputation as one of the stricter referees in African football.

Gomes refereed Ghana's last-16 game against Tunisia in the 2019 Nations Cup in Egypt and controversially disallowed a goal by Andre Ayew. The Black Stars lost on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

However, it appears all the fun was to no purpose, as Gomes seems not to be the man tasked with officiating the game.


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