World Cup opener: Ebonyi soccer fans blame referee for Croatia’s loss

World Cup opener: Ebonyi soccer fans blame referee for Croatia’s loss

Friday, June 13, 2014 1:02 pm

Abakaliki – Football enthusiasts in Ebonyi on Friday blamed the referee for Croatia’s loss to hosts Brazil in the opening match of the 2014 World Cup on Thursday.

Some of the fans, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abakaliki on Friday, noted that the Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura made some questionable decisions that favoured Brazil.

Others also blamed Croatia for lacking tactical discipline.

A defender with the Ebonyi United FC of Abakaliki, Chike Onyeneho, said the referee was wrong in awarding the penalty that resulted in Brazil’s second goal and disallowing Croatia’s equaliser.

“It was clear that the Brazilian striker, Fred, dived after a body contact with a Croatian defender; this negates FIFA’s war against diving by strikers.

Croatians argue with Japanese referee

Croatians argue with Japanese referee

“There was also no contact between the Croatian striker and the Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Ceasar, during a goal mouth scramble, but the referee disallowed the goal that could have resulted to the equaliser,” he said.

Moses Ebenyi, a viewing centre operator, said that such questionable decisions would create the impression that Brazil and other tournament favourites would always be favoured.

“This will ultimately cast huge doubts on the credibility of referees during the tournament and demoralise other teams from playing to their full potential,” he said.

Nicodemus Omenka, a former Commissioner for Youths and Sports in the state, noted that in spite of the questionable decisions by the referee, the Croatians were still to blame for the loss.

“The players lost possessions carelessly due to selfish plays which resulted to the three goals they conceded in the match.

“The coach also committed a tactical blunder by restricting his players to their own half, and was not efficient in counter attacks,” he said.

Peter Aliede, a University lecturer, called on Nigeria and other African teams to learn from the Croatian experience and ensure that they utilized all opportunities that would come their way.

“African teams always fall victims of poor officiating during international competitions, the teams representing the continent should be decisive in their attack.

“They should also play cautiously to avoid incessant bookings,” he said.

Nnenna Esonwune, a youth activist, however, commended the Brazilians for the take-off of the tournament in spite of the teething challenges that cast doubts over its hosting.

“The country remained resolute in ensuring a successful tournament in spite of the challenges such as massive protests, and non-completion of facilities, among others,” she said.

Brazil won the match 3-1 with goals from Neymar and Oscar while the Croatian goal came from a Marcelo of Brazil’s own goal

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