Okocha: Why Ref Overlooked Rojo’s Handball Against Nigeria

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Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia MOSCOW, RUSSIA - DECEMBER 01: (L-R) Ronalinho, Clarence Seedorf, Jay Jay Okocha, Lothar Matthaeus, Nwankwu Kanu, Anastasia Klimko, Celia Sasic all arrive prior to the Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia at the State Kremlin Palace on December 1, 2017 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Former Super Eagles captain, Austin Okocha has thrown more light on why the referee of Nigeria’s last group match against Argentina did not give a penalty against Marcos Rojo, for an apparent handball in the box, saying it was simply because the ball first touched the defender’s head.

While many Nigerians cried foul over the decision by the ref to overlook Rojo’s handball, with many conspiracy theories emerging and suggestions that it was because the arbiter had already given the Eagles one that Victor Moses converted, Okocha agreed with other pundits that it was not worthy of a spot kick.

Though ‘Jay Jay’ admits decisions also depended on the referee’s discretion, he agreed with another analyst, Andy Townsend that the Turkish official’s Cüneytçakır’s decision not to award a penalty for Nigeria against Argentina on June 26 was only because the Manchester United defender did not deliberately handle the ball in the area.

Okocha expatiated: ”The only reason why it was not given was because it touched his head before it touched his arm. That was why it was not given.

”Rojo has headed it down to his own hand, you can’t mean to do that, it’s bad play but it’s actually not a penalty because he has headed it to his own arm, it’s just a bad header.

”In general, VAR was introduced to help and improve the game, they never promised that it will be perfect but then it has helped in this tournament to clear some decisions.”

Townsend added: “This one, we know it is not a penalty as much as Nigerian fans might think it should be given. He heads it onto his own arm, it can’t be given.”

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