A new chapter was opened in refereeing in African football with the introduction of Additional Assistant Referees (AAR) in Wednesday’s semi-final match of Nigeria and Guinea at the U17 Africa Cup of Nations Tanzania 2019.
The AAR, in existence since 2012, and a common feature in UEFA League matches was experimented in the last four matches; Nigeria versus Guinea and Cameroon versus Angola, and the remaining games at the cadet championship, with plans to extend its implementation to other competitions in the not too distant future.
It comes on the heels of the successful application of Video Assistant Referees (VAR), which was applied during the 2018 CAF Super Cup between Wydad Athletic Club (Morocco) and TP Mazembe (DR Congo).
Approved by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), AAR seeks to help referees in the decision-making process during games.
The inclusion of additional referees takes the tally of match officials for a game to six from the traditional four. The system involves two additional referees positioned behind each goal, to closely monitor incidents with the penalty area and watch out for infringements that will be at the blindside of the central referee.
After supervising intensive theoretical and practical training, CAF Assistant Refereeing Manager, Mamadou Haidara, says all is set to use the system at today’s matches.
“The law has been around since 2012 but it was yet to be implemented by CAF. We decided to use it this time and we are ready for it,” he told CAFOnline.com in Dar es Salaam.
“The main reason for the introduction of this system is to help referees in decision making especially in the penalty area. This will allow the other two assistant referees to concentrate on offside and other fouls.”