Super League of Malawi (Sulom) says Nyasa Big Bullets will be required to fulfill their fixtures despite nine of the club’s players being in isolation after testing Covid-19 positive.
The reigning TNM Super League champions formally requested the top-flight league runners yesterday to consider postponing their upcoming fixture, which ironically is the Blantyre derby against their age-old rivals Be Forward Wanderers this Saturday.
Six more players, namely Mike Mkwate, Henry Kabichi, Nelson Kangunje, McFallen Ngwira, Luke Chima and Richard Chimbamba as well as the team’s Covid-19 desk officer Yamikani Magombo tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday, taking the total number of cases at the club to nine.
This was after three other players, namely Hassan Kajoke, Ernest Kakhobwe and Stanley Billiat also tested positive last week. Team manager James Chilapondwa and players’ welfare officer Chisomo Chikwembani also tested positive.
But in an interview yesterday, Sulom president Tiya Somba-Banda said: “The good thing is that the rest of the 20 plus players that Bullets registered tested negative and that makes a full complete squad eligible to play.”
On the possibility of players from other teams being positive for the virus, the Sulom president said: “We will basically follow the national Covid-19 guidelines on contact and tracing without departure.”
On his part, the People’s Team’s chief administration officer Albert Chigoga said: “Obviously, we are not comfortable fulfilling our next fixture because such developments create psychological trauma and we are short of numbers. In addition to that, most of them are our key players.
“We have, therefore, written Sulom to consider cancelling our upcoming games and we are waiting for their response.”
On his part, Bullets assistant coach Peter Mponda said apart from those in isolation, it would still be a challenge to raise a team as some of their players are nursing injuries.
Football analyst George Kaudza Masina said shared Bullets’ concerns and said there was a possibility that players and offiials from other clubs could be Covid-19 positive as well and worse still the fans.
“As it is, FAM and Sulom should swallow their pride and suspend the league or else, funds permitting, they should use the biobubble and play the rest of the season in empty stadia,” he said.
However, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) Covid-19 task force chairperson Chimango Munthali, who is also the association’s executive committee member, said Covid-19 tests are driven by signs and symptoms.
He said: “What triggered Bullets to undergo tests is that some players had shown symptoms. After three players tested positive, it meant acquaintances also had to be tested as per Covid-19 guidelines.
“So, it is not just done at will, but as per guidelines.”
Munthali said under such circumstances, Moyale Barracks, who played Bullets on Saturday, will also be required to undergo tests.
“Moyale also played Tigers FC, but whether Tigers will also be required to undergo tests will depend on the results of Moyale’s tests as per the guidelines.
“Having said that, we are adhering to the government guidelines on Covid-19 100 percent,” he said.