This abbreviation is increasingly getting such negative feedback that one would be forgiven for thinking it was some sort of infectious disease, as opposed to a Video Assisted Referee, designed to help reduce the amount of errors made by match officials in any given game.
South African fans were up in arms on Saturday evening, as Spain were given two penalties, ultimately awarded to them by Chilean referee Maria Carvajal, but both of which went through the VAR system before the final decision was taken.
My personal opinion is that the first, awarded for handball by Janine Van Wyk, was fair enough, as the Banyana captain raised her arms, and this seems to be the trend in terms of awarding spot kicks for handball – if your hands are not tucked behind your back when facing up an attacker, there is always the potential for a problem.
The second decision, that put Spain 2-1 up and saw Noluthando Vilakazi red-carded, was quite frankly ridiculous. Vilakazi connects with a clearance and her leg goes up in the air, her studs landing in the lap of the Spanish player.
What exactly Vilakazi is supposed to do with her leg, especially as she is falling backwards is, however, impossible to explain in terms of the penalty decision.
If I deliberately raise my studs and plant them in my opponent’s lap, then yes, it is a penalty and a red card.
If it is clearly an accident, then you can’t simply give a decision on account of where the studs landed. Spain scored their second penalty to go 2-1 up and with Banyana down to ten men, they were never really going to get back in the game.
Still, Banyana can take plenty of heart from what happened in their opening match, and if they can offer the same sort of resilience, complimented by the attacking threat posed by Thembi Kgatlana, they have every chance of giving China a big run for their money on Thursday.
Simply by qualifying for a World Cup Banyana have done exceptionally well –they have certainly given Bafana Bafana plenty to ponder, though Stuart Baxter’s side do have an Africa Cup of Nations to prepare for, the Bafana coach naming his final 23-man squad for the tournament on Sunday.
I have no major objection to the makeup of Baxter’s squad, though the implication that members of the Cosafa Cup squad had a chance of making it to Egypt does now look like little more than lip-service.
In the end, not one member of David Notoane’s side is on the plane to Dubai, and ultimately Cairo. Baxter said on Sunday that the technical staff ultimately decided on Sunday to keep their selection from within the provisional Afcon squad, but I do think it is fair to ask the question of whether they ever intended to do anything else.
Moving on, Bafana have a great chance of making it to the knockout stages in Egypt, if only because 16 of the 24 sides competing will make it to the knockout stages of this expanded competition.
If Percy Tau and Lebo Mothiba hit form up front, and Bafana’s defence can put aside some sloppy displays at respective PSL clubs, then I think Baxter’s side could just surprise a few people and go even further.
Congratulations, finally, to Thembinkosi Lorch, winner of Phakaaathi’s Player of the Season Award. To find out if you won a fantastic prize, turn to Page 7.
Would you like to place a soccer bet? Click here to get started in 3 easy steps.