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Feb, 13, 2008

Van Egmond calls for card consistency

Newcastle coach Gary van Egmond has raised questions over the leniency of referees' handing out bookings during the A-League finals.

Grand finalists Central Coast and the Jets both seemed to benefit from a generous Ben Williams during last weekend's major semi-final, with Mariners attacker Adam Kwasnik and Newcastle defender Matt Thompson both saved from suspension after escaping possible yellow cards.

Ten players will walk the suspension tightrope in Sunday's preliminary final - six from Queensland and four from the Jets - with Newcastle boss van Egmond calling for officials to be more transparent as to whether they were taking a lighter stance on handing out yellow cards during the finals.

The request came as Peter Green was handed the whistle ahead of Williams for Sunday's grand final qualifier, with the country's top two officials - Mark Shield and Matthew Breeze - unavailable due to FIFA commitments.

"It'll be interesting to see how the game is refereed in light of what was refereed with the Central Coast game and if the referees are more mindful of not giving yellows out," said van Egmond.

"During the year it seemed to be a little bit more easier to incur a yellow. If that's going to be the case then hopefully we can be informed of that."

A Football Federation Australia spokesman said referees always applied the same laws of the game no matter what match was being played.

Having been booked in week one of the finals, Kwasnik and Thompson both tread a fine line during the major semi-final last Sunday.

Both made rash challenges, but received only dressing downs from Williams.

In Kwasnik's case, it saved the 24-year-old from joining Sydney FC's Mark Milligan and Adelaide's Matthew Kemp as players banned from the grand final.

Van Egmond said his players wouldn't be thinking about a potential grand final suspension during Sunday's match at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

"It's all about the group and it's all about making sure that we qualify for the grand final and obviously for Asia," said van Egmond.

"If it's a situation where someone's got to make a challenge and they get the ire of the referee and it's a yellow card, then so be it - they have to miss out for the week after, but they've ensured that their teammates have qualified for the next phase."

Shield and Breeze, along with New Zealand-based A-League referees Mike Hester and Peter O'Leary, are currently at a FIFA referees seminar in Las Palmas, Spain, but will both be back in Australia in time for the grand final.

The seminar is the first stage of selection for officials ahead of the 2010 World Cup.

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