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SA referee Gomes opens up on memorable Mo Salah exchange

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Gomes caught the attention of many onlookers from around the football world after his stern – but somewhat comical – interaction with Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah during the AFCON final, with the South African referee offering the Egypt forward his whistle and asking if he wanted to referee the game.

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In a tense, goalless first half of the final between Senegal and Egypt, Gomes had grown tired of Salah questioning his decisions and was seen offering his whistle, cards and pen to the striker, asking if he wished to take over.

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Overall, Gomes was lauded for the manner in which he handled the final, and the 39-year-old has now said he felt he needed to treat Salah with the necessary respect without losing sight of what was best for the game.

“I respect the players that I officiate with and I don’t like to talk about the decisions I make on the field,” Gomes said, as quoted by Sport24.

“However, I do like to highlight some points for educational purposes and I also believe we have a responsibility to report positively on football matters so that our work is understood.

“Football has evolved tremendously and so have the players, who are highly respected and paid. Refereeing also has to evolve in that manner.

“We can’t stick to the old adage of officiating in a set way and style. All I can say is that on Sunday, I chose to manage a top-class player in a way I thought it would be deemed appropriate and responsible.

“Football was the ultimate winner on the day.”

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Meanwhile, former referee Ace Ncobo has since told Soccer Laduma there is good reason to view Gomes as one of the best officials in the game at the moment.

“Just like the winners, Senegal, are now officially regarded as the best national team after lifting the cup, so it applies to the officials who were tasked to handle the final.

“He was outstanding, not only in the final, but in all the matches he handled. Everyone could see that he was not intimidated by the moment, managing players with the trademark smile but also stern rebuke when needed.

“He’s being considered for the World Cup. The AFCON stage just about sealed the deal for his appointment to the panel,” Ncobo added. 

You can watch the viral clip involving Gomes and Salah below:

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