Nomads ‘double’ dreams take big knock: Ref shuns game

Mighty ‘Nyerere’ Wanderers’ dreams of hitting a double this years have taken a heavy knock following the team’s 1-0 painful defeat at the hands of Civil Service United (Civo) in Lilongwe yesterday (Friday, December 13, 2013).

Against all odds, the Nyerere played second fiddle to a side that was still fighting relegation as of yesterday- Thanks to the 1-0 win which has lifted the civil servants from the relegation zone.

Playing without their first choice defender Wongani Kaipa and bursting striker Innocent Dzimbili, who were both on suspension after accumulating two yellow cards, the Nomads struggled from the word go, allowing the hosts to make in-roads into their territory.

It was long overdue when Civo’s up-and-coming striker Asedi Ajasi beat the Nomads goalkeeper Richard Chipuwa from close range after 18 minutes of play.

Double dream shattered- Mbolembole tips his troops during the match, Pic Leonard Sharra

Sensing danger, coach Stewart Mbolembole brought in striker Kondwani Kumwenda for midfielder Omegadinho Mhone, who had made a come-back after being sidelined by injury.

There were more changes in the last half with the Nomads bringing in Cuthbert Sinetre and Benard Harawa for Iddrissa Walesi and Mike Kaziputa while Civo coach Oscar Kaunda introduced Dave Ng’ambi for Lawrence Mwehiwa.

Kaunda said he was happy his team was out of the relegation zone, praising his charges for playing according to instructions.

“We told the boys not to be under any pressure and take Wanderers like any other team in the Super League and I’m happy they followed the instructions,” said Kaunda.

Mbolembole admitted the loss had botched up his team’s chances of wresting the title from defending champions Silver Strikers.

“With this loss, things are no longer in our hands. We will have to rely on other teams to do it for us, which is not on. We have to forget about this loss and concentrate on Sunday’s game against Epac,” said Mbolembole.

Referee shuns match

The Civo-Wanderers game was delayed by over an hour as Lilongwe based Fifa referee Duncan Lengani refused to officiate the match following some reservations raised by the Wanderers’ camp during a pre-match meeting.

During the pre-match meeting held earlier in the morning, Wanderers officials are said to have expressed some reservations on Lengani, who allegedly denied the Nomads a clear goal during a Carlsberg Cup quarterfinal match against Red Lions in Zomba.

Lengani is reported to have explained that he disallowed the goal after his assistant had raised-up the flag for off-side.

The Nomads’ camp reportedly understood his position and only asked him to be fair during the Friday afternoon game.

Came the afternoon, Super League of Malawi was caught unawares to learn there was no referee to officiate the game after Lengani had recused himself due to the comments from  Wanderers’ camp.

Lengani got some backing from his fellow Lilongwe based referees, who refused to take up the whistle. It was after some heated discussions involving Sulom, the National Referees Committee (NRC) and Wanderers that Fifa referee Jones Makuwira accepted to handle the match.

The game, which was set to kick-off at 14:30hours started at 15:32hours and despite the loss, the Wanderers’ camp expressed satisfaction with the Makuwira’s officiation.

Efforts to speak to the NRC proved futile as its officials had left the stadium after the final whistle. However, a close friend to Lengani told Nyasa Times that the Fifa referee recused himself after noticing the Wanderers’ camp did not have confidence in him.

“This was not the first time for Wanderers to express discomfort with Mr Lengani. During the Standard Bank Cup final between Wanderers and Silver, Lengani was replaced by Mzuzu based Mabvuto Msimuko at the eleventh hour after Wanderers had asked the authorities that Lengani should not officiate the final.

Wanderers vice general secretary Hubert Mfune, who was present at the stadium said his side had no problems with Lengani officiating the Friday match but only asked him to be fair.

“Indeed we mentioned the Zomba incident but when the referee gave us an explanation, we all understood his position. For the Standard Bank Cup final, we were not against Lengani as an individual but questioned
the authorities’ move to assign a Lilongwe based referee when we were playing a team from Lilongwe in the final,” explained Mfune.

Sulom is yet to make an official statement on the issue but one official from the league said he was not amused with Lengani’s behavior.

Ref Makuwira (middle) pose with captains Emmanuel Zoya and Jacob Ngwira before the match, Pic Leonard Sharra

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