December 30, 2013

World Cup Referees - Predictions for Africa

That's part 2 of the series in that I am trying to predict the composition of the referee team to be nominated for World Cup 2014. After having already concentrated on Asia, this text will now examine the situation in the African confederation CAF. The remaining confederations are supposed to follow so that a final list of predicted World Cup referees will emerge.

These men's flight are probably already booked (c) fifareferees

In the following lists, you can find the cell "Community Vote". The percentages you can find there refers to our game "Your World Cup 2014" conducted at the beginning of this month. They hence equate the relative frequency of the respective referees' appearance in the community's World Cup lists. This means that this percentage shows in how many of your votes their name has appeared. In addition, you can get a quick overview on the amount of FIFA organized matches the respective referees have taken charge of during the last three years. These matches include World Cup 2010 matches, qualifiers and play-offs for World Cup 2014, youth tournaments (U-20/U-17), Club World Cups from 2010 to 2013 and finally the Olympic Games 2012 (= "FIFA 10-13").

CAF (Confederation of African Football)

REFEREE with ASSISTANT REFEREES
MA
Date of Birth
FIFA 10-13
Vote
AFRICA (CAF) - 7
Referee
Néant ALIOUM
CMR
01.01.1982
11
73%
Assistant 1
Evarist MENKOUANDE
CMR
14.11.1974
13

Assistant 2
Peter EDIBI
NGA
05.01.1970
4

Referee
Daniel BENNETT
RSA
22.08.1976
8
79%
Assistant 1
Aden Marwa RANGE
KEN
31.01.1977
8

Assistant 2
Zakhele Thusi SIWELA
RSA
02.09.1982
8

Referee
Badara DIATTA
SEN
02.08.1969
8
74%
Assistant 1
Djibril CAMARA
SEN
20.08.1983
13

Assistant 2
El Hadji Malick SAMBA
SEN
02.04.1979
7

Referee
Noumandiez DOUE
CIV
29.09.1970
10
60%
Assistant 1
Songuifolo YEO
CIV
01.01.1970
8

Assistant 2
Jean-Claude BIRUMUSHAHU
BDI
13.02.1972
8

Referee
Bakary Papa GASSAMA
GAM
10.02.1979
11
81%
Assistant 1
Angesom OGBAMARIAM
ERI
13.09.1971
12

Assistant 2
Felicien KABANDA
RWA
19.07.1971
11

Referee
Djamel HAIMOUDI
ALG
10.12.1970
10
92%
Assistant 1
Rédouane ACHIK
MAR
27.06.1981
10

Assistant 2
Abdelhak ETCHIALI
ALG
21.04.1972
6

Referee
Slim JEDIDI
TUN
17.04.1970
6
41%
Assistant 1
Bechir HASSANI
TUN
22.09.1969
10

Assistant 2
Anouar HMILA
TUN
14.07.1974
5

 
As done in the post about AFC, it might be useful to gently start with those referees who have already bought their ticket to Brazil. In Africa, this does only count for the officiating team headed by Algeria's Djamel Haimoudi
(c) dailymail.com
For a long time, Mohamed Benouza had appeared to be the clear no.1 of Algeria that is quite a powerful nation in terms of football refereeing, also keeping in mind that Belaid Lacarne of Algeria is joining FIFA's Referee Committee and savours a certain reputation in it. However, Benouza failed to participate in World Cup 2010, because his assistant referees Nasser Abdel Nabi of Egypt and Algerian Maamar Chabane had failed the very final fitness test before going to South Africa. This and some controversies around Mohamed Benouza resulted in kind of caesura in Algerian officiating since Haimoudi obviously became the no.1. His first appearance in a FIFA tournament was Under-20 World Cup 2011 played in Colombia. Haimoudi turned out to be a quite pedantic and strict referee who apparently perceived a certain joy to blow his whistle as often as possible. Quite controversial decisions were taken by him at this tournament such as a wrong penalty kick in his round of 16 match that decided the game. But that's history. He has proven many times to be the most reliable African referee at the moment. Among others, he handled the CAF Champions League final in 2012 and the AFCON final in South Africa in February 2013. Two times, he was honoured as the best African (2012) or Arabian (2012) referee respectively. Haimoudi showed good or at least satisfying performances in his two Confederation Cup matches including the 3rd place match between Uruguay and Italy. By the way, Haimoudi was the first referee ever to use Goalline Technology in a football match (Club World Cup 2012). His assistant referees Redouane Achik and Abdelhak Etchiali belong to the best assistants of Africa as well and have proven it in Brazil. Honestly, African refereeing and football in general of course does not have the same opportunities like UEFA, for example. So don't expect worldclass, but solid refereeing by Haimoudi. The same counts for his colleagues.

Tunisian Slim Jedidi is the other referee from the Northern zone of Africa. At the Olympic Games and during U-17 World Cup 2013, he did not receive the biggest matches but showed overall satisfying performances. This won't be enough though (probably). After his controversial performance at AFCON 2013 and the aftermath of the
match, when several forms of media reported a suspension issued against him by CAF, he did not appear very often in international and domestic matches. De facto, Jedidi was only appointed twice in the CAF World Cup qualifiers and only once after the AFCON problems: Angola vs Liberia. Both teams were already out and had no chance to qualify for the next round. So it is very sure that Jedidi is only a pre-selected official on paper but not in reality. This is a real pity as other referees from the same region such as Bouchaib El Ahrach of Morocco, whom I consider as the actual no.1 of Africa despite my limited knowledge of African refereeing, would have had many chances to qualify for Brazil instead. As a conclusion, Jedidi plays no role for the World Cup.

But then, it becomes tricky. First of all, we cannot be sure how many places this confederation will get. It could be 3+1 or 4+1. I will concentrate on the latter now and state whom I consider to be out of everything in the case of 3+1.

Let's start with the youngsters. Gambian Bakary Gassama was a real discovery at AFCON 2012. The 1979 born official was very inexperienced then and did not handle important matches save some at minor CAF competitions. As a starting match, he was then assigned to take control over the hosting nation Gabon's decisive match against Morocco. Apart from one significant error without impact on the result, he showed a very concentrated and sophisticated performance, maybe the best of the entire competition. A quarterfinal followed where several crucial decisions were taken correctly, too. This was the starting shot for an already stunning
career: just a few months after this tournament, he suddenly appeared on the pre-list for World Cup 2014. As a consequence, he was immediately invited to handle matches at the Olympic Games 2012. In both matches, he has proven courage and performed in a decent manner with room for improvement. At AFCON 2013, he then started with the intense derby between Tunisia and Algeria. After South Africa - Morocco, he took charge of the semifinal between Mali and Nigeria. Specially the first match exposed problems for Gassama, who for example missed a clear penalty kick. But as his semifinal nomination showed, CAF seems to grant him some mistakes taking into account his fast-track progress over not even two years. The same weakness of assessing penalty area incidents unveiled at U-20 World Cup 2013 and in his play-off for the World Cup where he awarded a wrong penalty kick in favour of Nigeria. Therefore, it is quite certain that he actually needs more time to prosper his skills and collect experience. But without any doubt, his referee style is the most modern among all African pre-list referees.
That was surely also a reason for selecting him to officiate matches at Club World Cup. In his first game, he refereed Raja Casablanca, a team from CAF zone. This actually infringes the confederation neutrality rule. It is very likely that Busacca already indicates that it might happen in Brazil that sometimes referees could meet a team belonging to their own confederation in one of their matches. Anyway, his second match was more meaningful: he was the first African to take charge of a FIFA semifinal for many years. He performed well with areas to improve in Guangzhou - Bayern München. 
Personally, I would definitely choose him for the final tournament, but it might be that Busacca is a bit more hesitant. Maybe being fourth official would be the golden way as he could prepare himself for World Cup 2018 collecting first experiences in Brazil. On the other hand, Gassama has a certain advantage that is called Felicien Kabanda. The experienced assistant referee from Rwanda might get support from former World Cup assistant referee Celestin Ntagungira (2006, 2010), who is sitting in both CAF and FIFA Referees' Committees. Kabanda was recently injured though which made him miss the Club World Cup 2013.

There is even a referee who is a bit younger than above mentioned Gassama. Cameroon's Néant Alioum, born in 1982. Although he is three years younger than the Gambian, he has a year more FIFA experience, as he joined U-17 World Cup 2011 in Mexico and controlled four matches including a quarterfinal. He caught our and surely also the committee's attention by very good performances and confirmed this impression at the consecutive AFCON tournament(s), although the quarterfinal between Ghana and Tunisia (2012) could have been kept under more match control. Some qualifier matches have however revealed obvious weaknesses of Alioum who partly missed really clear penalty kicks or red cards (for example, no penalty in Gambia - Morocco and no red card for a 100% clear case of dogso in Benin - Algeria, where he only issued a 2nd yellow card). However, his play-off performance as well as both matches at U-20 World Cup 2013 have been very good. 
Moreover, his assistant referees also bolster and increase Alioum's chances to be on the World Cup list: Evarist Menkouande is more or less undoubtfully considered as the best African assistant referee for years, while Nigerian Peter Edibi is a strong team-mate as well proven many times at AFCON. Like Gassama and Haimoudi, Alioum is nominated for the CAF trophy of Africa's Best Referee 2013. In the end, Haimoudi made the run, but it shows how much confidence and trust CAF is paying to both young officials. I would like to see them both on the field of play in Brazil.

As we know FIFA and their referee committee, almost everything can be influenced by political moves. And therefore it should not go by the board that Senegal's Badara Sene might play a crucial role. This committee member might be the main reason why a full Senegalese trio have been included in the pre-list headed by 1969 born Badara Diatta. The team is completed by 30-year-old Djibril Camara and 34-year-old El Hadji Malick Samba. They for example acted at AFCON 2013 in some important matches. One year earlier, Diatta had taken charge of AFCON 2012 final between Zambia and Côte d'Ivoire in Gabon. His performances were never at the level of Haimoudi or Gassama at their best, but were absolutely solid and characterized by a lot of experience: it is the second time that Diatta's name is appearing on a pre-list after 2008-2010. Overmorrov, he will go into his fifteenth year as a FIFA licensed international referee. Diatta was present at five AFCONs and active in 15 World Cup qualifier matches. However, in all those years, he was only invited to two FIFA organized tournaments: he took charge of one match at Olympia 2008 and controlled three matches including a round of 16 tie and the third place match at U-17 World Cup
2013. Besides, he was appointed for a tight and important play-off some weeks ago and did well in it. Can all this be enough for a World Cup participation? Maybe. In my opinion, it would be deserved after all these years and a sensible counterpart to the younger officials I proposed above. If only four (3+1) referees are selected from Africa, I would like to see him as standby official. Every referee team could profit from his experience as a consequence. So in case of 3+1, my selection would be clear: Haimoudi, Gassama, Alioum + Diatta. For the case of 4+1 officials, I have to shift focus on the two remaining referees though.

Côte d'Ivoire's Noumandiez Doue is one of them. He is a quite experienced referee born in 1970. Like Haimoudi, he participated in U-20 World Cup 2011 where he handled two matches and, from my point of view, did not really recommend himself for the World Cup in 2014. He might be described as a authoritative, dutiful and humorless referee, who is able to apply the Laws of the Game in a solid manner. But specially at U-20 World Cup 2013, there were several examples when players tried to undermine his authority by not showing the required respect for his decisions and work on the pitch. Unfortunately, they managed it in many cases. Doue's style is accompanied by gestures that, to be honest, sometimes miss their target. They mostly appear to be quite farcical and artificial, a circumstance which underlines his problems to earn respect for his decisions. 
Apart from an award by CAF honouring him as Africa's Best Referee of 2011 and a Champions League final which was quite chaotic but well-refereed, CAF rarely appointed him for really decisive matches except Cameroon - Libya in the qualifiers for the World Cup (the winner was qualified for the play-off round). But coming back to his weird style: it is maybe needed in Africa. The matches he handled there were better; he definitely earned more respect and approval from the players. We have to accept and respect different mentalities in refereeing, but this does not change that I consider Doue as a referee who is not on World Cup level.

Last but not least, there is only one referee team from the more Southern part of Africa. South African Daniel Bennett represents this zone. Some English readers and referees maybe know this name: Born in Dewsbury, England, he has been being a long-standing friend of David Elleray. Based on this friendship, Elleray lobbied for him in the English referee committee so that Bennett attended two semifinals of FA Cup as the sixth official in 2009. Well, enough nepotism. Apart from that, Bennett is also a very good and appreciated referee in South Africa's first league for many years. The 37-year-old missed the last World Cup in his home country, since Jerome Damon had been the no.1 then. Bennett convinced at several AFCON matches and re-paid the trust CAF had put in him in vital matches like Ghana - Nigeria in 2010 (semifinal), Mali - Côte d'Ivoire (semifinal) or the derby between Morocco and Tunisia (group stage), both in 2012. Nevertheless, this year's AFCON gave me many doubts. He took charge of a group stage match between Togo and Tunisia, issued 9 yellow cards, had almost no control and wrongly evaluated at least three actually easy penalty area decisions, maybe even four. He left the tournament after this match and was even officially removed from the CAF refereeing roster due to poor shape. But he came back with the second leg of the final of CAF's Confederations Cup 2013. In FIFA tournaments, he never got challenging matches but only four low-profile matches in Club World Cup and U-17 WC 2013.
The most important aspect of this referee is his fitness. Even in 2012 it was visible that he could maybe lose one or two kilos...his sprinting abilities were not the best, his movement to be improved as well. Nonetheless he passed the fitness tests in the last months which normally exposes a huge problem for several South African referees - many referees had failed it in 2012, for example, which almost jeopardized the first part of the season in South Africa's top division. Bennett was one of not many officials who passed the tests successfully. But of course, one has to ask whether a referee who is withdrawn confidence by the continental federation due to poor form can be eligible to be selected for a World Cup. His biggest hope probably is that geopolitically it might be appreciated to have a referee from Africa's South among the World Cup officials.

On the whole, I would therefore favour four World Cup referees from Africa. Néant Alioum, Bakary Gassama and Djamel Haimoudi as main referees and Badara Diatta as standby official. If there will be five spots (4+1) though, I would tend to include Doue in the list as standby official making Diatta a main referee. But the duel between Bennett and Doue is very close and I don't want to decide on that to be honest. Therefore, my prediction for African referees at the World Cup is (again emphasizing that four referees would be enough and compliant with performance principles):

REFEREE with ASSISTANT REFEREES
MA
Date of Birth
AFRICA – 4 REFEREE TEAMS + 1 STANDBY TEAM (?)
Referee
Néant ALIOUM
CMR
01.01.1982
Assistant 1
Evarist MENKOUANDE
CMR
14.11.1974
Assistant 2
Peter EDIBI
NGA
05.01.1970
Referee
Badara DIATTA
SEN
02.08.1969
Assistant 1
Djibril CAMARA
SEN
20.08.1983
Assistant 2
El Hadji Malick SAMBA
SEN
02.04.1979
Referee
Bakary Papa GASSAMA
GAM
10.02.1979
Assistant 1
Angesom OGBAMARIAM
ERI
13.09.1971
Assistant 2
Felicien KABANDA
RWA
19.07.1971
Referee
Djamel HAIMOUDI
ALG
10.12.1970
Assistant 1
Rédouane ACHIK
MAR
27.06.1981
Assistant 2
Abdelhak ETCHIALI
ALG
21.04.1972




Referee
Noumandiez DOUE
CIV
29.09.1970
Assistant 1
Songuifolo YEO
CIV
01.01.1970
Assistant 2
Jean-Claude BIRUMUSHAHU
BDI
13.02.1972

23 Comments:

  1. Haimoudi, Gassama and Alioum deserve places at the World Cup. But Doue, Diatta, Bennett and Jedidi hat terrible matches in the past with a lot of totally wrong decisions.

    ReplyDelete
  2. As always I agree with most of all you have written, but at the same time I think that Doue can be sure of his call, as main referee. Based on his last performances at U20, FIFA appointed him even in the final (as fourth official).
    The style can be discussed but first of all FIFA likes referees who make correct decisions, of course.
    Haimoudi is 100% sure, then in my opinion there will be a choice between Alioum and Gassama. I don't see both at WC. For this reason, my prediction is (considering 4+1): Haimoudi, Doue, Gassama, Diatta (Alioum fourth official).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry Chefren, but which last performances of Doue warrant a WC call? The Turkey - Colombia match or the R16 Greece - Uzbekistan?

      Delete
    2. A lack of control sometimes here and there in Turkey-Colombia, but the penalty called in Greece-Uzbekistan seemed all correct.
      Don't you agree?

      Delete
    3. The loss of control at the 1st match was quite obvious. As for the penalty against Greece it is correct BUT when you want to give such a penalty you have to do it from min. 1. And Doue failed to do so.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous4/1/14 02:46

      @ Niclas: where did you see that Haimoudi has been voted the best African referee in 2013?

      Delete
    5. Hi I can answer for Niclas.

      He is in nomination with Gassama and Alioum.
      http://allafrica.com/stories/201401031012.html

      And the ceremony will be held on the next 09/01:
      http://www.cafonline.com/caf/awards/awards-news/418-caf-announces-2013-awards-date-and-venue.html

      So, not still decided.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous4/1/14 14:22

      That is why I asked and I see that the original text has been edited accordingly. Haimoudi has his chances, but Gassama advanced considerably in 2013.

      Delete
  3. I must admit that I am a bit impressed about your texts, Niclas!

    Keep up the good work :)

    /Swedish observer

    ReplyDelete
  4. Outstanding analisys as usual, very nice to get it for each confederation. Please let me keep only 3 + 1 as for AFC, so following, Niclas' indications, my predictuion is: Hamouidi, Gassama, Alioum and Diatta as reserve.
    Regards Mario

    ReplyDelete
  5. I thank you and, at the same time, wish you again a happy 2014. Get well into it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Very bad work of Howard Webb at Chelsea-Liverpool.
    Ignominous actuation!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great posts as always Niclas!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Again, happy new year 2014 to all blog readers.

    ReplyDelete
  9. OT Excellent dive call by Atkinson in SOU - CHE right now. Match minute 55:00 a penalty which seemed obvious at first glance, was a well spotted simulation.
    Atkinson really close to action.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, very good decision from Atko. I must admit, he's improved his game this season.

      Delete
    2. Moss missed a clear penalty (for Arsenal) in 77'.

      Delete
    3. He also missed a clear penalty for Cardiff in the second half (cannot remember the exact time).

      Delete
  10. Correct decision from Webb, Welbeck went down without any contact. No penalty!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great response from Webb after Sunday, I thought he did very well. Correctly rejected two penalty appeals from United.
      More importantly, great performance from Spurs and what a win at Old Trafford. ;)

      Delete
    2. On second thoughts, United should have had a penalty when Lloris clipped Young.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous2/1/14 10:22

      Maybe a question for Nur H,
      How can it be this possible that Webb isn't able to reach a consistent line? It is too precarious in my eyes.
      We saw him in AC Milan - Ajax for example, with an almost perfect game, and then 2 weeks later a very poor Chelsea - Liverpool clash and a not so good Manchester United - Tottenham Hotspur. Do you think that he has reached his top, in contrast to his assistants, who still perform very well?
      And what about Oliver? Is he a very good referee and able to replace Webb in, let's say 5 years on the Elite List?

      Delete
    4. Hello,
      I don't know about you, but Webb has always (in my view anyway) taken the safer option. He would rather give a yellow instead of a red, or abstain for whistling for a penalty in fear of getting it wrong. The stats back me up: he hasn't awarded a penalty or produced a red card in the Premier League this season. When you compare him to let's say.... Cuneyt Cakir, who is not afraid to make the big decisions, even though it would infuriate the partisan crowd. Never in a million year's would I think Webb would produce a red card in the Alexis Sanchez and Nani situations respectively.
      But let's not forget, there is a reason why institutions like PGMOL, FIFA and UEFA entrust Webb with the big games. His man management is excellent and he usually performs very well. Moreover, Webb has just come off a splendid 2013. Dortmund-Real, Confed Cup, Juventus -Real and SWE-POR. All big games, where the former sergeant has truly excelled. He will still be England's #1 for the foreseeable future in my eye's. A fundamental aspect which ranks Webb over Clattenburg, is his superior assistants. Mullarkey and Cann are much better than Beck and Child (in my view).

      As for Michael Oliver. At the tender age of just 28, to be FIF A listed and in the First Category is some achievement. However, Clattenburg is the heir to Webb's throne. Oliver is improving by every passing month, and has handled some very top fixtures in the last year or so (Man City-Spurs, Arsenal-Spurs and Man United-Arsenal). If progression continues in this steady rate, who knows, he might have his Elite status in less than 5 years.
      He has had some invaluable experience acting as AAR for Webb, U-19 Euros and some games in the Europa League which will bode well in the future. His best attribute is his calmness and composure, the occasion is never to big for him.
      Regards.

      Delete

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