AFCON 2023: Fans score refs and VAR high

AFCON 2023: Fans score refs and VAR high
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After one week of action, It has been an exciting tournament in Ivory Coast, with AFCON 2023 officiating yet to leave a sour taste in the mouth.

So far, AFCON 2023 has witnessed 18 matches with six draws and only one team managing four goals in one game – Equatorial Guinea.

With 46 goals scored from these 18 games and five penalties awarded so far in the tournament, there were few complaints about the AFCON 2023 officiating.

The level of play at this year’s tournament has been high, with some shocks and surprises so far, but it is a testament to the improvement of the quality of football in Africa.

While the top dogs like Cameroon, Algeria, Ghana and Egypt have not found the going smooth, how would AFCON 2023 officiating be described?

No controversies due to good AFCON 2023 officiating

AFCON 2023 Officiating: Mohamed Adel awarded South Africa a penalty against Mali
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Apart from the star players and the upcoming stars that make a tournament what it is, the standard of refereeing is also a massive factor in determining its credibility.

After two rounds of matches by the teams in Ivory Coast, there has not been any controversy so far, and the focus has been on the players, tactics and quality of play.

The referees have refused to be the centre of attraction as there have been no issues with the quality of officiating.

VAR has been spot on at this tournament with their offside calls and the reviews of various incidents during the game agreeable to all.

There have been many decisions that in other tournaments would have drawn the ire of the players and fans, but the competition has yet to witness a situation where the referees or VAR has been the centre of attraction.

AFCON 2023 officiating has been consistent, with the referees keeping it simple and managing the games well. Perhaps other Confederations can learn a thing or two from Africa.

AFCON 2023 officiating: The stats so far

AFCON 2023 Officiating: Evidence Makgopa wins a foul against Mali
Photo by Icon Sport

The match officials at AFCON have done a solid job in ensuring that all eyes remain on the players and the game rather than the on-the-pitch decisions made by the referees.

The Officials have made plenty of decisions like penalties, yellow and red cards and offside calls.

The referees have called 467 fouls so far in this tournament. Of the fouls committed, Ghana are the biggest culprit with 37, with the Super Eagles of Nigeria in third with 31.

Fifty-eight of those fouls have resulted in yellow cards and three red cards.

Of the three red cards, two were straight sending-offs – Francois Kamano (Guinea) and Ebrima Adams (Gambia), while Novatus Dismas Miroshi (Tanzania) received two yellow cards.

The referees awarded five penalties. Four were scored, with Percy Tau (South Africa) missing it.

However, in what should be the only disagreement with the referees, many believed the penalty awarded to South Africa was unfair. Perhaps the miss could be described as justice served.

VAR spotted 53 offsides, with Cape Verde accounting for the most in the tournament – six.

AFCON 2023 officiating has been stellar, and if it continues in this vein, there is no doubt that the eventual winners would be deserving of being champions.

  • The stats here do not include matches on Saturday January 20.

This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month ago

Chooka Izuegbuna is a Sports Journalist with 20 years of experience in print, TV and Radio. He has worked with some of the top media houses in Nigeria, including NTA Network, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird TV and MITV. Chooka broke his sports reporting teeth with The Game Football Weekly in 2003 as a cartoonist and reporter.