Pretoria - Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has defended referee Victor Gomes, who on Saturday awarded five penalties in the Brazilians’ 3-2 Premiership victory over Ajax Cape Town in Pretoria.
Gomes was the centre of attention at Loftus Versfeld, awarding Sundowns three spot-kicks, while Ajax got the other two.
“When you have Victor Gomes in the middle, you must be ready for a thriller,” Mosimane said after the game.
“What I like about him, is what he thinks… he doesn’t hesitate. He’s strong in his mind. When he thinks it’s a penalty, he gives it.
“Well done to him. I congratulated him at half-time. I said, ‘what I like about you, no matter whether you’re wrong or right, you’ve got guts’. He doesn’t care, he’s a young referee, he has a lot of energy, if he thinks it’s a penalty, he gives.”
The former Bafana Bafana coach, who has had his share of run-ins with referees in his time as a coach, felt officials in the country could learn from Gomes’ approach to the game.
“I like a referee like that. Referees want to play safe and want to be good,” Mosimane said.
“The safer you play, the less controversial you are, the less time you are under public scrutiny. I think other referees should learn from him. I’m not saying they were all penalties, but he’s the kind of referee who does what he believes is right and that’s what I like.”
Sundowns only managed to convert one of the penalties, courtesy of Katlego Mashego’s 33rd minute strike.
Earlier, Teko Modise’s penalty was saved, while in the second half, Mashego failed to score his second of the night, rattling the crossbar as the ball bounced wide.
Ajax had no problems netting their penalties, with Nathan Paulse and Lance Davids tucking away past Sundowns goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.
The Brazilians’ other goals both came from set-pieces, as Thabo Nthethe bagged his first goal for his new club from a Modise free-kick, while second half replacement Anthony Laffor scored from a corner.
“What was disappointing was that I thought we would get zero behind (not concede) but all the goals were scored from set-pieces,” Mosimane said.
“Sometimes it’s good, it helps us as coaches to prepare for set-pieces. Set-pieces determine the game and you could see that tonight.”
Mosimane lauded his team for breaking down a resilient Ajax defence, who sat back and waited for Sundowns, who did most of the playing.
“We’ve improved our interplay. We find holes in between, I hope that stays. When you find holes and pass the ball within the game, then we’re able to do something. Teams who want to come and sit back, they must also understand that we can play with inter-passes.
“We’re passing the ball and we’re dominating and we’re getting the game to where I believe it should be and the way I think football should be played.”
Although the Pretoria outfit stayed in second place on the Premiership table, Mosimane’s troops closed the gap on log-leading Kaizer Chiefs to six points, and extended their advantage over third-placed SuperSport United to five.