Cameroon: VAR to make historic debut at 2020 CHAN

By Beng Emmanuel

VAR will be introduced for the first time in Cameroon during the knockout stage of the 2020 CHAN. A CAF official says Africa’s football regulatory body and Cameroon are ready. 

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) will make its debut at the African Nations Championship during the quarter-finals of the biennial continental competition reserved exclusively for home based players. It had not been used during previous editions of the CHAN in 2009, 2011, 2014, 2016 and 2018.

Cameroon will become only the second nation on the continent to make use of the VAR in a CAF competition after Egypt during the 2019 African Cup of Nations. It will also be used during the 2021 African Cup of Nations postponed to 2022 by CAF. 

According to a CAF instructor, and coordinator of CHAN referees Evehe Divine Raphael the Federation and Cameroon is set to use the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) during the quarter-finals of the 2020 African Nations Football Championship. 

“VAR will certainly be used during the quarter-final of the 2020 CHAN. The Confederation of African Football had programed to use it and Cameroon has taken all the necessary measures,” Evehe Divine said on state media.

“Matches have been played with the use of VAR but they were offline. There are referees who are at work while the game is going on. We have been training referees. VAR officials have been here for a while,” he added.  

“The aim of the VAR is to make decisions. It has to be used carefully. The referees are ready. We have an objective. We have a vision. And we are working in relation with them,” the CAF official said.

The video assistant referee reviews decisions made by the centre referee during matches with the use of video footage. It is used specifically to minimize human errors that cause substantial influence on match results. Also, VAR system seeks to provide a way for “clear and obvious errors” and “serious missed incidents” to be corrected. 

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The Wait is over! 

Cameroon has never used the VAR in its stadiums before. According to the Kick442, the Central African nation came close to using it in March 2020. But, matches were cancelled because of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

League one champions PWD of Bamenda and Avion Academy were to play the first-ever match with the VAR at the 50,000 Japoma Stadium on Match day 30 of the championship. But, the match was cancelled. The second occasion was during the final of the CAF Champions League – the first-ever single leg final. Unfortunately, Cameroon declined from staging the event. 

Close to a year later, the use of VAR is set to start in Cameroon. The African regulatory football body CAF says everything is set to guarantee efficiency and plausible results during the 2020 CHAN. 

“VAR will be used as from the quarter-finals. We are preparing. All stadiums hosting games will use it. The referees are ready; the technicians and the equipment are available. There is no reason why things should not go well. We always have confidence in the people we choose.” Mali’s Haidara – manager of referees at CAF said. 

Although the VAR will be used in Cameroon during the 2020 CHAN games, it might not be used during the country’s domestic championships. The technology has not been installed in all stadiums. 

Morocco is the first African country to use of the VAR in their league games. 

How important is VAR during CHAN? 

No team is willing to lose during the knock-out stage of any competition regardless of how they got there. The pain gets worse when the referee’s decision is responsible for their misery. 

Contrary to the group stage encounters, matches of the knock-out stage are handled with extreme care and caution. The use of the VAR is  required to achieve more credibility and avoid mistakes. 

There is no doubt the VAR will address some worries raised during the group stage. Several coaches complained about referees’ decisions during matches. Some teams payed dearly for what they described as ‘unworthy decisions’. 

“CAF didn’t preview the use of VAR in the group stages. If it did, not only eight (8) assistant referees would have been selected for the tournament. The VAR goes with huge material and human resource. Another reason is that there is less pressure on match officials in the group stages”. Isifu Michael, Cameroonian referee told Ginainforms.

“VAR requires more manpower during games. Instead of four match officials for one game, we have at least seven (7) referees during a game. This means more appointment opportunities and more moeney for referees”- he continued. 

The quarter-final matches will be played on January 30 and 31 in Yaoundé, Douala and Limbe. 

Mali will face the Congo Republic in the first game at the Ahmadou Ahidjou Stadium while two time champions the Democratic Republic of Congo challenge host nation Cameroon at the Japoma Stadium in Douala for a spot in the semi-final. 

On Sunday, Morocco entertain Zambia at the Reunification Stadium in Douala, while Guinea face Rwanda in the last quarterfinal clash at the Limbe Omnisport Stadium.

Complete Quarterfinal Pairings and venues 

30/01/21: Mali vs Congo Republic (5:00PM)

Venue: Ahmadou Ahidjou Stadium-Yaounde

30/01/21: DR Congo vs Cameroon (8:00PM)

Venue: Japoma Stadium-Douala

31/01/21: Morocco vs Zambia (5:00PM)

Venue : Bepanda Omnisport Stadium-Douala

31/01/21: Guinea vs Rwanda (8:00PM)

Venue :Ngeme Omnisport Stadium-Limbe


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