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Club Captain Faces A Four Month Ban
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Pirates Handed Lengthy Ban
Thursday 20th September 2001

By Kashif Naveed

It took almost 40 hours but the Premier Soccer League"s (PSL) disciplinary hearing into the abandonment of the league match between orpi and act has finally been concluded - and the verdict took almost everyone by surprise.

The reigning league champions, Orlanado, were in the dock for their heated encounter against Ajax Cape Town on August 12th, which ended in farcical circumstances. The match had to be abandoned - with Ajax leading 1-0 and five minutes remaining on the clock - when several of the Pirates' players appeared to physically assault referee Paulo Marques.

An inquiry was immediately launched and the PSL delivered its verdict on September 19th, finding the club and two of its stars guilty. Furthermore, league officials deemed that the incident was so severe that it handed out the strictest penalties it has ever done in its history.

The two players found guilty, club captain Thabo Mngomeni and Josep Ngake, have been hit with lengthy suspensions. Two other Pirates" stars, Gerald Raphahlela and Benedict Vilakazi, have also been reprimanded.

However, the punishments handed out to them are nothing compared to the penalties faced by Mngomeni and Ngake. Whilst Raphahlele was warned to his future conduct and Vilakazi given a four match ban, club captain Mngomeni was effectively suspended from the game for four months.

Ngake did not escape the wrath of the soccer authorities and he faces a six-month suspension for his part in this sorry mess. The club did not fare too well either as they were fined approximately US$5,000. Moreover, Ajax were awarded the three points and the 1-0 scoreline in their favour, which put them into the top five in the league table.

However, this is not likely to be the end of this matter, with Orlando prepared to take the case to the South African Football Association (SAFA). Pirates" director Cyril Kobus said afterwards:

"We are not happy with the verdict and will take it to a higher forum (the SAFA's appeal board) where we are confident we will get a different verdict. What is paramount here is not how long the case took but we must ensure that justice is served which it is was not."

Although, they did receive some sympathy from unexpected quarters when masu"s managing director Nastasia Tsichlas said: "While we do not condone the actions of the players, my problem is that no referee has ever been punished by the disciplinary committee for their mistakes."

Meanwhile, Ajax"s manager Eric Dalton had no sympathy: "Pirates brought this on to themselves. The ruling was justified and is good for football. Hopefully, this outcome will send out the correct signals and prevent such incidents in future."

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