Desmond Kane

Justice done as Mexico win but trend of calamitous officials concerning

Desmond Kane

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Mexico's coach Miguel Herrera (C) speaks to Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan (L) during the Group A football match between Mexico and Cameroon at the Dunas Arena in Natal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 13, 2014.

In case you are trying to decipher the level of football's enduring popularity across the globe, it can be found in some of the figures circulating the undulating and fairly volatile world of social media over the past 24 hours or so.

Before Mexico deservedly downed a fairly limited Cameroon side 1-0 in the second match of these finals courtesy of Oribe Peralta's goal at a saturated Estádio das Dunas in Natal, Facebook announced that the tournament's opening match between hosts Brazil and Croatia in Sao Paulo had attracted 58 million posts.

This was apparently five times the number recorded by the 86th Academy Awards in the film world earlier this year. The world wants to talk about football, and never more than now.

Or to paraphrase: leading footballers at the World Cup finals are arguably bigger box office these days than some of the starrier names in Hollywood.

In such a respect, they do not get much bigger than the ongoing Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon, but it wasn't Chelsea forward Eto'o - or any other player come to think of it - occupying the main topic of discussion after it was all over in Natal.

It is perhaps a pity that we have gone two games in this World Cup, and match officials are rapidly becoming the headline acts. A good referee should be seen and not heard.

After the now infamous Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura failed to red card Neymar for an elbow and awarded the host nation a penalty that never was in the tournament opener, we had more farce in not so tropical but certainly topical Natal in the north-east of the vast country.

Mexico's former Tottenham forward Giovani Dos Santos - who is turning out for Villarreal these days - cut a confused figure amid the deluge as he wound up with two legitimate goals disallowed in the opening 31 minutes.

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Dos Santos tucked a volley into the rigging on 10 minutes from Hector Herrera's cross only to see the flag of Colombian assistant linesman Humberto Clavijo raised for offside.

It was a wretched decision, but worse was to follow when Dos Santos nudged his header into net from a corner only to see Clavijo's flag raised for a second time. It was bewildering if you like a Mexican hue to your football.

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The ball clearly came off a Cameroon head in a yellow shirt before Dos Santos forced it over the line, but don't try telling that to the assistant referees.

Goodness knows what the official was doing, but he was in need of a large cup of Colombian coffee to rouse him from his penchant for flag-raising.

Especially as he was attracting the rather irate glare of the Mexico manager Miguel Herrera, a man who was in his element in the rain. Herrera looked more like an actual Pitbull than the World Cup singer of the same name.

As a player, this was a bloke apparently banned before the 1994 World Cup finals in the USA for punching a snapper before the matches.

"Every training session leaves me easy and calm knowing every player will leave their last bead of sweat and last breath on the field to please the Mexican fans," he had said prior to this contest. "We will fight to the death."

They didn't really need to go that far with Cameroon doing little of interest. Thankfully, some modicum of justice was done for the coach with the bulldog spirit and the Mexico team - roared on by their typical array of fans in wrestling masks - finally left Cameroon submerged on 61 minutes.

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The Cameroon goalkeeper Charles Itandje could only block an effort by the lively Dos Santos, but Perlata responded quickest to sweep the rebound gleefully into the net. It was his ninth goal in seventh outings for Mexico. Tasty returns.

It must be said, Cameroon were a disappointment here. Eto'o managed to drill a pass from Benoît Assou-Ekotto wide in the first half while Benjamin Moukandjo saw a header plucked out of the air from the Mexico keeper Guillermo Ochoa in the death throes.

Eto'o also had a finish disallowed offside on 16 minutes, but he was well off. Unlike the suffering Dos Santos, who should be level with Neymar as the tournament's top goalscorer.

Mexico face hosts Brazil in their second Group A match on Tuesday. Cameroon are staring down the barrel before they meet a Croatia side who look in much better shape.

The bet that no African nation will make it to the second stage is perhaps not as ridiculous as it sounds.

In saying that, the way some of these match officials are unravelling, it would be foolish to make too many predictions with too much certainty.

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