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Okocha disappointed with Algeria coach Belmadi for criticising referee in World Cup qualifying loss to Cameroon

3:22 am AEST 6/4/22
Jay-Jay Okocha of Nigeria
The former Super Eagles legend believes there should be better avenues for dealing with factors affecting African football

Nigeria legend Augustine Jay-Jay Okocha has hit out at Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi for openly criticising referee Bakary Papa Gassama for "poor officiating" in the 2-1 second leg 2022 World Cup qualifier against Cameroon.

Having won the first leg by a solitary goal, the North African nation came into the second meeting as favourites. However, the Indomitable Lions staged a spirited performance to advance on the away goal rule.

Belmadi and the Algeria FA were not impressed with the way the Gambian officiated the match and they went on to lodge a complaint with Caf, demanding a replay.

These actions did not sit well with Okocha who insists tacticians have no right to talk about the referee's undoings.

"A coach has no right to talk about the mistakes of a referee. There is a structure capable of seeing better than us and sanctioning. The VAR has challenged the referee, which means that there is a fault. What are we talking about here? Where is the referee’s error?" the former Super Eagles captain asked, as quoted by L-Frii.

"We all watched that same game. We saw the offsides, the heads accompanied by the hands. Maradona called it the hand of God. Nowadays, the VAR is the laser that sanctions."

Okocha went on to opine there will be mistakes at the World Cup in Qatar too.

"Cameroon is qualified, that’s all! If we have to talk about refereeing errors, now is not the time. A country has just lost a match on the field; then suddenly, a coach comes to worsen the thing," the now 48-year-old continued.

"Organize a symposium and debate on all the things that undermine African football, but not at the dawn of the competitions!

"The real mistakes made on purpose await you at the World Cup in Qatar; where will you file your complaints?"

In the competition that will start from November 21 and run to December 18, Africa will be represented by Cameroon, Senegal, Ghana, Tunisia, and Morocco.