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OFC trio referee at FIFA Arab Cup 2021™

Three match officials from the Oceania region were a part of all the action at the inaugural FIFA Arab Cup 2021™ in Qatar last month.  

New Zealand’s Matthew Conger was joined by assistant referees Tevita Makasini (Tonga) and Bernard Mutukera (Solomon Islands).   

The trio worked together on the Morocco v Palestine Group C match (4-0), before teaming up again for Egypt v Sudan (5-0) three days later.  

Conger said while the matches finished with one-sided scorelines, the matches were competitive and challenging as a referee.  

“The first match required many situations that needed precise decision making,” Conger said.   

“Both Tevita and Bernard had some tight offside decisions to make during both matches, but our teamwork was at a high level.  

“We received good feedback from our match assessor and instructors.” 

Conger went on to be fourth official for several games including Tunisia v Oman (quarter-final) and the final between Algeria v Tunisia, while Makasini was named reserve referee on two occasions.  

Prior to tournament kick-off the referees spent their first five days in Qatar working through a pre-competition seminar.  

Conger said the seminar was an important time to work on consistency with referees from other Confederations.  

“Each day began with three hours in a classroom reviewing and discussing video clips, while analysing topics such as field positioning, reading the game, challenges and penalty area incidents,” Conger said.  

“We then spent almost three hours out on the field acclimatising and testing our physical conditions through integrated training with players.  

“These sessions were where we applied concepts discussed in our theory classes. We practiced our decision-making, communication and teamwork. We also used Video Assistant Referee Technology.”  

The FIFA Arab Cup 2021™ saw 16 teams from across Arabian countries compete in a total of 32 matches over 19 days.

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