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Ndidi, others knock AFCON final ref

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referee Dahane Beida came under scrutiny of Nigerians for his performance during the final of the 2023 AFCON match between the Super Eagles and hosts Ivory Coast at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan, on Sunday, reports.

Ivory Coast defeated the Eagles 2-1 to claim their third title.

The officiating at the tournament has been commended all over the world, particularly the use of the Video Assistant Referee, but Beida was caught in the midst of some poor decisions against Nigeria during the encounter, which many said tainted the tournament.

In front of over 60,000 fans, mostly Ivorians, the Mauritanian official called for a number of fouls in favour of the hosts but failed to reciprocate in obvious situations for the Eagles.

Nigeria’s coach Jose Peseiro was also booked while complaining about an incident involving Victor Osimhen, in which the striker jumped high to win an aerial ball but was adjudged to have fouled Frank Kessie. That was some moments after an Ivory Coast player walked free after elbowing Osimhen during an aerial duel.

“Puzzling choice of referee for the final. The referee is clearly struggling with the occasion. Officiating has been one of the success stories of the competition and CAF had more experienced options to choose for the final. Favour probably prevailed over labour,” journalist Biola Kazeem noted during the game.

Another journalist, Atinuke Esan, also said, “One of the good reviews we have seen about this tournament have been the referees and their decisions. But it seems this ref is hell bent on destroying everything because this bias is too glaring.”

Super Eagles midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi who missed the tournament due to injury wrote in pidgin English, “Ref na wa o.”

A UK-based Nigerian educationist, Dipo Awojide, also decried the poor officiating. “The Referee has been awful. He is cheating!”

“This referee is trying so hard to spoil what has been impeccable officiating at this tournament,” another journalist Biola Solace-Chukwu said.

Nigerian RnB singer, Johnny Drille, also commented on the referee’s performance, “This ref is against us. Nothing you can tell me.”

The final was Beida’s third game at the competition, having handled the match between Egypt and Mozambique, which ended in a 2-2 draw during the group stage, as well as the round of 16 clash where Angola secured a 3-0 victory over Namibia.

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