Age-old rivals Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers have appealed to the match officials for this afternoon’s Airtel Top 8 semi-final showdown to take a firm line so that only the deserving team should carry the day.
This comes in the wake of the controversy that marred their TNM Super League encounter on April 28 at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe where the People’s Team felt robbed after what would have been their winning goal by burly forward Chiukepo Msowoya, was ruled out for off-side by the near side assistant referee.
The development led to Bullets fans pelting objects on to the pitch and the match was stopped for about 10 minutes.
Bullets coach Rogers Yasin yesterday said they are hoping that the authorities have assigned “competent referees who will not spoil such a high-profile derby”.
He said: “Sometimes it’s just incompetency on the part of the match officials and not necessarily bias.”
On his part, Nomads’ team manager Stevie Madeira said: “Our expectation is that the referees will be fair so that the best team should carry the day. Let the deserving team carry the day without being aided by biased or incompetent officiation.
“Let me also appeal to the fans to understand the rules and not act emotionally out of sheer ignorance or frustration.”
Blantyre-based Ishmael Chizinga has been assigned for the big match and will be assisted Clemence Kanduku, who is fresh from the Cosafa Cup duty in South Africa, and Hendrix Maseko while Easter Maseko and McGovern Mpeni will be the fourth official and match assessor, respectively.
National Football Referees Association (NFRA) general secretary Chris Kalichelo has since assured the two teams and soccer fans that they should expect an improved performance this time around.
“We spent a lot of time and energy on that and both teams as well as the fans should be assured of good officiation. Mabalawo tayesetsa kusokasoka ndithu [we have tried to work on the shortfalls],” he said.
He also urged the teams and the fans to refrain from attacking the match officials for the sake of it.
“Referees are human and, therefore, are bound to make mistakes. But in most cases it boils down to ignorance on the laws of the game on the part of the teams and the fans,” he said.
Meanwhile, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) commercial and marketing director Limbani Matola says they have organised tight security at the match.
“We have had a series of preparatory meetings with stakeholders including police, stewards and the fans in readiness on security and everything is in place,” he said.
Matola said they are expecting a big turnout of not less than 30 000 for the derby.
Charges are K2 000 Covered Stands, K6 000 VIP, K50 000 corporate box and K500 for car pass.
“The entry tickets can also be bought through Airtel Money by dialling *211#.”