There are bad refereeing decisions in the game football and then there are scandals.
What happened in the 1-1 draw in Kumasi on Saturday afternoon in the 2015 Nations Cup qualifier between Ghana and Uganda was the latter.
But for a typical atrocious call against an away team in African football by referee Said Kordi, the famed Black Stars of Ghana were beaten in Ashanti land.
“We were robbed,” Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic remarked in reference to the dubious 49th minute penalty converted by Andre Ayew after a foul that was manufactured out of nothing by Kordi.
“Ghana can win a match against Uganda without needing the assistance of a whistle. What we saw out there was unbelievable, absurd and bizarre,” an unhappy Micho explained.
The incident that rescued a point for Ghana is one Kordi will not want to remember fondly. Ghana midfielder Majeed Waries went down under apparent pressure from Cranes centre half Savio Kabugo prompting the Tunisian official to point to the spot.
The Baba Yara stadium was stunned. Normally a decision of that significance would be met with uncontrolled celebrations from the slaughter house that is Baba Yara. Instead there was a mixture of bemusement, shame, embarrassment and half-hearted relief. It was a penalty only in Kordi’s warped imagination.
Television replays confirmed that it was an awful decision.
Skipper Andy Mwesigwa, outstanding against Ghana dangerman Asamoah Gyan, measured his reaction. “We are a bit used to such decisions,” said the central defender. “I am happy with the performance but not the result.
“Yet again we proved that with our young side we can compete against the best sides in Africa.”
Admittedly Ghana forced the ball in the early exchanges and would have led but for Denis Onyango’s stupendous goalkeeping. Twice he denied Asamoah Gyan including a brilliant save in a one-on-one situation.
Perhaps his best save was a sharp reflex to deny a Waries header from point blank range.
Having survived the early onslaught, Cranes midfielders Luwagga Kizito and Tonny Mawejje grew in confidence and showed their class at one the continent’s iconic stadiums – venue of Egypt’s 6-1 whitewash by Ghana.
Luwagga teased Jeffrey Sclupp at will, and regularly showed an inclination to weave his way through the support offered by Jonathan Mensah.
It was little surprise that Luwagga and Mawejje were involved in Uganda’s opener at the stroke of halftime the latter receiving possession, finding space and time to turn and shoot past Abdul Fatau Dauda in the Ghana sticks.
“My goal should have won the match but it didn’t. Still we give all the glory to God,” Mawejje would say after.
Cranes got the more palpable chances and were unlucky not to snatch victory midway through the second half when Brian Umony’s shot rebounded off the inside of the post, with no one to react and tap home.
Support for Uganda grew as the Kumasi faithful booed their team, still angry at how the Black Stars embarrassed the country by demanding $100,000 on the eve of their make-or-break World Cup match against Portugal.
“Kumasi always supports Black Stars. But after the greed we saw at the World Cup, these are a bunch of mercenaries,” a angry fan Kwaku Nyarko told Daily Monitor.
“Uganda should have won this match but were cheated. Ghana was never going to beat Cranes, they (players) are an arrogant, insensitive, greedy lot.”
Cranes were due to arrive in the country today morning (1am) to turn their attention to the Wednesday home match against Guinea.
“We have finished the first battle,” Micho reflected. “But we must now forget about Ghana and look ahead. We must not get carried away.
“Our patriotic Ugandans and of course the players must be ready to fight in the upcoming five battles inorder to make Afcon a reality and not a dream.”
Group G Table
P W L D F A Pts
Guinea 1 1 0 0 2 1 3
Uganda 1 0 0 1 1 1 1
Ghana 1 0 0 1 1 1 1
Togo 1 0 1 0 1 2 0
SOURCE: Daily Monitor