By Paul Mundandi Sport
ZIMBABWE’S referees will this afternoon converge in Bulawayo for a technical course and fitness test as they prepare themselves for the 2017 domestic season expected to start next month. About 80 referees are expected to battle for a place in the elite group. Twenty referees will be relegated to the second tier if they fail to meet the set standards.
Last year Mlindile Ndebele failed a fitness test which eventually forced him into retirement.
But he returned in December for another training which saw him being promoted to a match commissioner.
He was joined by Cosmas Chafa, Oswald Mukucha, Batsirayi Muchenje and Masimba Chihowa.
Local referees have often come under intense criticism for their poor standards, but ZIFA Referees Committee vice-chairman Gladmore Muzambi has vowed to ensure things will improve.
Muzambi also promised that his committee will continue working hard to fight match-fixing.
“We are picking up from the end of last year when we assumed power. We emphasised on zero tolerance on match manipulation. Our emphasis is on match officials and they should pull up their socks.
“Any weak performers will be referred to a review panel which we have set up and it will review performances every Tuesday after the weekend games and those who would have performed badly will not be appointed until they satisfy certain demands,” said Muzambi.
The review committee is made up of Muzambi, Japhet Mfiri and a third member who is still being vetted.
“If any woman referee wants to officiate in the PSL games she must pass the male fitness test. If they do not pass they will officiate in the second-tier league (Division 1) and this is the requirement by CAF and FIFA.
“We are going to try and improve performance and good performers will be recommended to CAF and FIFA for international appointments.
“People should, however, not expect miracles because to go to AFCON one must be on the CAF elite panel.”
Muzambi criticised the previous committee which he feels had scuppered the development of referees in the five years when they were in charge.
Norman Matemera and Nomore Musundire are the country’s best referees according to CAF.
Nelson Kusosa is the best assistant referee in the country.
The referees will be based at Hillside Teachers; College and will be under the watchful eye of Sabele Maphosa, Alfred Zindove, Thabani Mkanjo and Muzambi.
Muzambi also appealed to the fans to respect decisions by the match officials.