By Mabvuto Kambuwe:
Airborne Rangers’ free fall in the Chipiku Central Region Football League Premier Division continued on Saturday when they lost 1-0 to rivals Mafco in a Salima derby at Parachute Ground in the lakeshore district.
The defeat was a big blow to the paratroopers in the promotion race as they trail Mafco by five points after playing three games in the second round.
Zikani Sichinga gave Mafco the perfect tonic in the first half to ensure maximum points in a temperamental game.
Mafco have 58 points from 24 games whereas Airborne are second with 53 points from the same number of games.
But both sides were in action yesterday, with Mafco playing away to Ngolowindo whereas Airborne travelled to Ntcheu for a date with Lake Valley.
Airborne have dropped points in two consecutive games having also drawn 1-1 with Silver Strikers Reserve at their base last week.
The Malawi Defence Force side’s coach Kondwani Gawani blamed the loss on officiation.
“My players were demoralised by the referees. Their performance left a lot to be desired. We were frustrated by their decisions and this affected our style of play. But all is not lost. We still have more games to play and will keep up the fight until the end of the season,” Gawani said.
His Mafco counterpart, Stereo Gondwe, was on cloud nine with the result.
“It is a big boost for us in the promotion race. Airborne were giving us a lot of pressure. But we should not relax because anything can happen,” Gondwe said.
The two teams are hoping to return to top flight football after they were relegated.
Mafco were chopped from top flight football last year while Airborne returned to the regional league four years ago.
In other games played on Saturday, Luanar claimed a 2-1 victory over Silver Reserve at Silver Stadium whereas Support Battalion beat Mbabvi 3-1 at Mvera.
Dedza Dynamos claimed maximum points after beating Imvani 2-0 whereas Wimbe defeated Dedza Young Soccer by the same scoreline in Kasungu. Kamuzu Barracks Youth triumphed 2-0 over Obings Pirates whereas Mchinji Boma Stars and Mitundu Strikers shared the spoils after a 1-1stalemate in Mchinji.