Archive for June 23rd, 2010

Crunch time for referees too

It’s Mexican referees to the fore on Friday for two of the top matches. Benito Archundia takes charge of the Brazil v Portugal match that closes Group G in Durban while his compatriot Marco Rodriguez will officiate Spain against Chile in Pretoria on the same day.

These seem sensible appointments by FIFA. Mexican referees are well used to top level highly emotional matches and all four teams have a Latin background.

Howard Webb of England will take control of defending champion Italy against Slovakia in Group F at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park on Thursday and again it is sensible to appoint a very experienced European official for this crunch match between two UEFA teams.

Japan’s Yuichi Nishimura has been awarded his third World Cup match with Group F leader Paraguay against New Zealand at Polokwane the same day. This is also a sound appointment. Nishimura has performed well in his two matches so far and appointing an Asian referee to this match between a team from Oceania and one from South America makes sense.

The group stages are nearing completion and the top teams are emerging. In the same way, the top referees are emerging.

The next considerations for FIFA will be which referees to be kept in their Pretoria Headquarters and which referees will be released.

This is not a straightforward decision since not only must the referee’s performance so far in the tournament be taken into consideration but also the success or otherwise of the referees’ national teams.

So all four referees mentioned above will be looking at the results of their countries with mixed feelings, as will other referees such as Roberto Rosetti from Italy, Wolfgang Stark from Germany. Alberto Undiano from Spain, Carlos Simon from Brazil and Hector Baldassi from Argentina.

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Differing fortunes for Asian referees

The appointments of referees to matches can always throw up the unexpected. A match which on paper looks easy can turn out to be very difficult and vice versa.

The three AFC referees experienced differing fortunes in their matches..

One of the most difficult assignments was handed to Khalil Al Ghamdi of Saudi Arabia when he was selected to referee the match between Chile and Switzerland.

This was always going to be a very difficult match because of the playing styles of the teams and what was at stake.

The match was fiercely contested in the middle of the field by a very determined Chile and by a very physical Switzerland. There were numerous fouls and so there were numerous whistles by the referee.

It was one of those matches when the discipline, or rather indiscipline, of the players meant the game was never going to flow. It was stop – start for almost the whole 90 minutes and the referee was in a no win situation.

Yuichi Nishimura, of Japan, had an easier appointment in the match between Spain and Honduras.

Spain wanted to win and Honduras wanted to keep the score respectable. There was little or no physical contact throughout the entire match and Yuichi Nishimura strolled through it with clear signals and accurate decisions.

Ravshan Irmatov refereed the final match in Group B between Argentina and Greece.  He had an excellent performance in his third match so far in World Cup 2010.

Early in the match he refused to be taken in by the extravagant claims for fouls by both teams and after the teams realised this they decided to get on with the game.

Khalil Al Ghamdi would have preferred a more straight forward match and will be disappointed but Yuichi Nishimura and Ravshan Irmatov will be very satisfied with their performances so far.

Irmatov has already refereed three matches and Nishimura will referee his third when he takes charge of the important Group F match between Paraguay and New Zealand.

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