Bullets fans, officials court controversy at Silver

If the behaviour by Big Bullets FC fans and officials during the TNM Super League match involving the ‘People’s team’ and Epac FC at Silver Stadium on Sunday is anything to go by, the warning from Carlsberg Malawi that they will pull out the sponsorship for Bullets and Mighty Wanderers should the teams engage in violent acts is falling on deaf ears.

Bullets fans and officials- notably coach Eddington Ng’onamo and another official Joe Kaole courted controversy at the Silver Stadium, when they led protests against the officiation by Lilongwe based referee Simon Jovinala, who handled the match between Epac and Bullets.

Jovinala irked the Bullets’ bench midway into the first half of the match, when he ordered a Bullets’ player against replacing the match-ball for Epac with the ball provided by Bullets. After the referee’s move, Kaole was seen repeatedly moving from the Bullets bench to complain to the fourth official on petty issues.

Bullets fans pelted the whistleman

Things turned sour when Epac’s Ishmael Thindwa headed in the opener from a Tsanzo Dalio corner kick in first half stoppage time. Led by Ng’onamo, the Bullets’ camp accused Jovinala of adding three minutes of stoppage in the first half.

Ng’onamo was seen struggling with security personnel at the exit/entrance tunnel as he wanted to confront the referee. This resulted in tension rising amongst Bullets’ fans, who bayed for the referee’s head.

The fans started pelting objects at the officiating crew, forcing them to remain on the field of play during the break. The game resumed without the match officials going to the dressing room and with just about five minutes remaining on the clock, Jovinala flashed a red card to Epac’s Stain Malata for kicking a Bullets’ player in an off-the-ball incident.

Malata had just come in for Wonderful Timeo before committing the offence.

Two minutes into added time, Diverson Mlozi outpaced two Epac defenders before levelling the scores for Bullets.

As Bullets’ fans celebrated the goal, some of them sitting on the southern side of the stadium started pelting objects at Epac goalkeeper Jailosi Kapalamula, forcing the goalkeeper to flee the goal area. This resulted in Jovinala blowing the final whistle with two minutes of extra time remaining.

The development did not go down well with the Bullets’ officials and fans, who started pelting objects again. However, the officiating crew escaped unhurt as they were led to the dressing room by heavily armed police officers and match stalwarts.

In other games played on Sunday, Civo United defeated Moyale Barracks 1-0 at Mzuzu Stadium with Blantyre United edging Mighty Wanderers 3-2. In Zomba, ten man Red Lions downed league leaders Silver Strikers 2-1.

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