A TNM Super League match between Moyale Barracks and Mighty Tigers ended prematurely on Monday, taking the tally of abandoned top-flight league games to three in just over a month.
In the latest episode at Mzuzu Stadium, visitors Mighty Tigers walked off the pitch in protest against a penalty awarded to Moyale when they were leading 2-1 with 12 minutes remaining.
The Blantyre derby between rivals Nyasa Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderers was the first to be abandoned on May 1 at Kamuzu Stadium followed by the match between Silver Strikers and Red Lions which ended prematurely at Silver Stadium in Lilongwe two weeks ago.
Surprisingly, all these games were abandoned after one team protested against a penalty awarded to their opponents in the dying minutes of regulation time.
The Blantyre derby ended 15 minutes to time while the Silver versus Lions match ended 10 minutes before the final whistle.
In Mzuzu, Kondwani Chilembwe scored a brace for Tigers while Moyale scored through Deus Nkutu. However, it did not end well after the referee blew the whistle, arguing Tigers’ defender had handled the ball in the box.
“You have seen for yourself what happened. We cannot continue with this game because that was not a penalty. Our player did not handle the ball,” Tigers’ technical director Robin Alufandika said.
On the other hand, Moyale assistant coach Pritchard Mwanza said the decision by the referee was final and that they deserved the penalty.
“It was a clear penalty and it was sad that our opponents decided to walk off the pitch. We came hard on them in the second half which forced Tigers to concede the penalty. We will wait for Super League of Malawi’s [Sulom] verdict on this,” he said.
In an interview on Tuesday, Sulom general secretary Williams Banda said they will wait for a match report before coming up with their determination.
Soccer analyst George Chiusiwa said football authorities’ delays to provide conclusive verdicts in previous abandoned games could be one of the main reasons as people believe in taking matters in their own hands.
“Football authorities are taking too long to address the root causes of the abandonment. Some teams get punished, but it takes too long to come up with conclusive verdicts,” he said.
FAM executive member Rashid Ntelera, who is also chairperson for the local football governing body’s referees sub-committee, agreed with Chiusiwa that their delays to issue conclusive verdicts might be one of the contributing factors to increased match abandonments.
“However, people have to understand that it takes time for investigations to be concluded and there are several processes that occur before verdicts come out. As FAM, we do not just jump into issuing verdicts,” he said.