The first round national playoff match in the Presidential Initiative on Sports (PIS) between Mzuzu United against Mzuzu University Football club was Tuesday afternoon abandoned after the students arrived at the venue, Mzuzu Stadium beyond the scheduled time.
The officiating personnel, spectators and Mzuzu United waited from the scheduled kickoff time for Mzuni players and officials. But they were nowhere to be seen.
As such organizers, the senior Northern Region Football Committee (NRFC) officials had no option but hold an impromptu indaba to call off the game as Mzuni team turned up an hour and a half from scheduled time 14:30 pm.
There was drama when spectators realized that Mzuzu United players who had been warming up and later took position on the field of play waiting for their opponents alongside officiating personnel left the field after a long wait.
This angered soccer fans who had paid to watch the game and immediately demanded reimbursement of their money. Anti-riot Police had to be called in to quell the mounting tension. The fans that paid entry fee of K100 successfully pressurized stadium owners and NRFC officials to reimburse them their money.
As the security forces were disembarking from their armored vehicle, the students who were in their heavily loaded bus outside the stadium broke into a song changing a popular Christian dirge into their own words:
‘Limbani mitima a ulendo.Tiya gasi sapha munthu koma ndi mankhwala a chimfine (stand up sojourners. Teargas does not kill or harm anybody but it’s a remedy for flu).
Speaking to journalists soon after the game was called off, Peter Ayew Chavula, Deputy Director of Sports at Mzuni and who also plays for the team said Mzuni delayed because the bus which was supposed to ferry them to Mzuzu Stadium had broken down. He said the alternative vehicle also had a front tyre burst just as they were about to leave their campus.
“When we tried to get alternative transport, it took us so long for the transport department to make available a bus which has brought us here,” said Chavula.
But a source who asked for anonymity and was at the University Campus just before the students left explained that Mzuni supporters blocked their team from leaving the campus after officials barred them from travelling with their team due to their recent disruptive behavior at matches involving Mzuni.
Recently, a game between Mzuni and Karonga United was abandoned in a fracas that ensued when Mzuni supporters invaded the field of play to celebrate Mzuni equalizing goal. The game had to be replayed where Mzuni pulled through.
Chavula took a swipe at the organizers decision to fix the game on a working day like Tuesday, saying it clashed with academic schedule.
“We already put it to them in our previous match against Karonga United. We appealed to them that our games should be fixed on the weekends but the organizers were not prepared to take on board that suggestion and we had to grudgingly accept their decision,” said Chavula.
Meanwhile, Masiya Nyasulu, General Secretary of NRFC said the rules of the competition says any team which has caused the failure of the game or abandonment forfeits that particular game but was quick to add they will have to hear the side of Mzuni story before making a final decision.
“However, we will not make our decision before hearing their [Mzuni] side of story. We will have to meet as a committee to look into the case which should be in writing. They have duly done that and submitted to us, a short while ago,” said Nyasulu.
Mzuni officials have appealed to the NRFC to look into the issue soberly, saying they would love that the game be decided on the field of play and not in boardroom.–Malawi News AgencyFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :