Questions on whether Balaka Stadium is fit to host big matches arose again on Saturday when a quarter-final match between Be Forward Wanderers and Prison United culminated into a bloody fist-fight.
It was at the same venue, where a similar fracas claimed the life of soccer fan Lemiyasi Josita of Ntcheu on December 28 2013 when Wanderers played against Silver Strikers in a TNM Super League encounter.
On Saturday, the fight started deep in the first half. Nomads were not happy to see Prison United supporters, who were ferried from Zomba in a truck, cheering their team by beating drums behind their (Nomads) bench.
However, things went from bad to worse after United fans turned down Nomads’ request to move to another place, prompting some irate Wanderers supporters to invade the terraces occupied by Prison fans to beat everyone deemed to be the team’s fan.
The game was stopped for almost 17 minutes for calm to be restored. The game was eventually completed and Wanderers won 1-0 through Peter Wadabwa’s priceless goal.
“That was a very bad experience. However, we are happy that we managed to win the game and progress to the semi-finals,” said Wanderers coach Eliah Kananji.
On the other hand, Prison United assistant coach Julius Magombo described their loss as a good omen.
“We are happy that we have lost the match. Otherwise, we could have been terribly manhandled by Wanderers fans had we triumphed.”
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) official Casper Jangale, who witnessed the ugly scenes, said they will ivestigatethe cause of the malaise.
“It was a good game, but the violence spoiled everything. We will come up with our stand after the investigations,” he said.
Balaka Police Station spokesperson Joseph Sauka said investigations into the issue are underway, saying: “We are investigating the matter, we will come with the results soon.”