The jury is still out whether the decision to award Nepal a penalty by the Uzbekistan referee was the right one
Two former Fifa referees from Bangladesh offered contrasting takes on the controversial penalty converted by Nepal to salvage a 1-1 draw against the men in red and green that took the Himalayan nation to the Saff Championship final at the expense of Oscar Bruzon's charges.
Needing a win to advance to their first Saff Championship final in 16 years, Bangladesh were leading 1-0, thanks to an eighth minute header from Suman Reza from a Jamal Bhuiyan free kick, when chaos ensued in the last 10 minutes of the game.
First Bangladesh goalkeeper Anisur Rahman Zico was shown a straight red card for handling an underhit Sohel Rana backpass outside the box in the 80th minute before Nepal got a controversial penalty in the 87th minute.
Anjan Bista converted from the spot to break Bangladesh hearts but the jury is still out whether the decision to award Nepal a penalty by the Uzbekistan referee was the right one.
From a flighted cross, Bangladesh forward Saad Uddin slightly nudged a Nepalese forward and it looked like the latter made a meal of it but the referee immediately pointed to the spot, and unluckily for the men in red and green there was no Video Assistant Referee during the tournament.
One of the former Fifa referees from Bangladesh and currently the head of referees of Bangladesh Football Federation Azad Rahman told Bangla Tribune that the penalty awarded was the right decision.
He said, "It seemed there was a slight push by Saad, which in refereeing terms was an unpopular decision. The referee took the right decision as per the laws. With that said, this kind of a decision does not go down well with everyone."
Another former Fifa referee Sujit Bannerjee offered a different take, saying the Uzbek referee could well have decided not to give the penalty.
He said, "Once again, it was an unpopular decision in refereeing language. This was between a foul and no foul, like there is a fine line between a yellow and a red card. But the referee has the power to give such decisions.
"Saad's arm made contact with the Nepal player's shoulders. There was a push. But the referee doesn't always give this kind of decision. In this case, quite often we say the referee could have avoided giving it. The referee could have treated it as a no foul. In most of the cases, the referee doesn't give this decision. Actually the referee wanted to establish that contact was made with that push."