Zimbabwe international Ronald Pfumbidzai saw red as his clumsy marking cost Bloemfontein Celtic silverware in the MTN8 final against South African football giants Orlando Pirates at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.
The challenge resulted in the penalty that decided the final of the MTN8 final. Pirates, who are home to another Zimbabwean, Terrence Dzvukamanja, walked away deserved winners following a comeback 2-1 victory.
Dzvukamanja, however, was not part of the Buccaneers on Saturday. His compatriot, Pfumbidzai was the fall guy as his error eventually cost Celtic their first silverware in a long period and a chance to pocket R8 million.
The winning strike was more gifted by Celtic who failed to deal with Bucs keeper Richard Ofori’s long range clearance and the ball went all the way to the box where Pfumbidzai was found guilty of pulling back Pirates forward Thembinkosi Lorch.
The referee Luxolo Badi pointed to the spot and gave the Zimbabwean defender his marching orders just over five minutes after returning from the half-time break.
With a one-man advantage, Pirates dominated more though they were guilty of missing a number of gilt-edged scoring opportunities.
But there was some bit of debate on the red card on Pfumbidzai, with some Celtics fans arguing that the referee was harsh on their man.
However, journalist Thomas Mlambo explained on his Twitter account that the penalty and the red card were above board.
“Foul started outside the box but online into the box . . . I think that’s what the ref saw and red card is (spot-on) because Lorch was denied a clear goal scoring opportunity and Pfumbidzai did not make an attempt to play the ball . . . he just pulled Lorch… rules say that’s a red card,” said Mlambo.
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Pirates went into the clash as favourites after a dominant run-in to the final, where they scored six unanswered goals.
But they were forced to chase the game after conceding to Celtic with only four minutes played on Saturday night.
It would take until after the half-hour mark for the Buccaneers to equalise, with Deon Hotto snatching a loose ball from a scramble inside the Celtic box to get his first goal in Pirates colours.
As the clock approached the halfway mark, Zakhele Lepasa could have given Pirates the lead as he was released by Fortune Makaringe but did not make enough of a connection to turn the ball into the net.
If the start of the first half was nightmarish for the Buccaneers, the first few minutes of the second were the stuff of dreams as Celtic’s Pfumbidzai was adjudged to have pulled Lorch down inside the box.
A red card was handed out to the culprit, with a penalty awarded to the Sea Robbers.
Lorch stepped up, sending Jackson Mabokgwane the wrong way to hand his side the lead for the first time in the encounter.
It was then time to shut things down, but that turned out not to be a straightforward mission with Celtic not giving up, despite their numerical disadvantage.
The Buccaneers, however, weathered the storm, emerging victorious to claim their first trophy since 2014.