Kashima Antlers boss – ‘referee wasn’t brave enough’

A controversial call by Zambian match referee Janny Sikazwe has caused a huge stir in the football world. 

Once every blue moon, the underdogs will do something special and knock off the giants. We neutral football fans love it, and it almost happened yesterday in the Club World Cup Final. The first ever Asian finalists – Japanese Champions Kashima Antlers faced a Real Madrid side who were unbeaten in 37 games.

Unlike many others who have surrendered to negative tactics, Antlers took it to the Spanish giants and succeeded. Their bravery saw them come back from a goal down to take a 2-1 lead in the second half.

Madrid equalised through a Ronaldo penalty, although Antlers continued to push for a winner. With Los Blancos on the back foot, Antlers hit an extra gear late in the game. A fast break counter attack from Kashima left Real’s outnumbered defenders scrambling back, only to be prevented through a cynical challenge from Sergio Ramos.

The referee reached straight for his pocket to hand Ramos his second yellow and red card. Incredibly, the official backed out of his decision to send off the Real Madrid captain.

Real Madrid won 4-2 in extra time.

“We created problems for Real Madrid, but these kinds of games are settled by small differences”, said Antlers coach Masatada Ishii. 

“Right from the very start of the game, my players showed bravery and played to the best of their ability. But maybe the referee, at a certain moment of the game wasn’t sufficiently brave enough, and that’s a shame.”


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Ari Charilaou