Even war-torn Eritrea has a representative, yet no Malawian referee has made the 32-member short-list of whistle-men selected to officiate at the African Nations Championship (Chan) in Morocco next month.
The Confederation of African
Football (Caf) on Thursday released the list of the referees ahead of the January 13 2018 kick-off of the continental competition which is restricted to players drawn from domestic leagues.
“The list is made up of 16 referees and 16 assistant referees representing 27 member associations. The Caf Referees Committee also selected seven match officials to operate as Video Assistant Referees (VAR’s) which will be debuted on the continent at the tournament,” reads a statement on www.cafonline.com.
Football Association of Malawi Referees Development Officer, Maxwell Mtonga, yesterday insisted that Caf still rates Malawi referees highly, citing his recent selection as match commissioner of a Champions League match in Egypt between Al Ahly and Etoile du Sahel.
Mtonga attributed the snubbing of the Malawian referees on the Chan list to their poor performance on thedomestic scene. Malawi has 15 Fifa referees and assistant referees.
“It is because of the dismal performance of the referees in 2017. Most of the referees, who are on the Chan list, are in the Elite A category, and our male referees are yet to penetrate into that list. Dennis
Ngulube is in Caf B Elite category but his performance has not been good enough. Those on Fifa referees’ list have to jack up,” Mtonga said Friday.
Most of the referees on the Chan list are from the continent’s top footballing nations such Cote
d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Egypt, but even minnows such as Madagascar, Lesotho and Comoros and Eritrea are also represented.
The list includes Janny Sikazwe from Zambia, Arsenio Maringule (Mozambique), Souru Phatsoane (Lesotho), Jerson Dos Santos and Martin de Carvalho (Angola), Nampiandraza Hamada (Madagascar), Jackson Pavaza (Namibia), Gomez Miguel (South Africa), Soulaimane Almaldine (Comoros) and Berhe Tesfagiorghis (Eritrea). Malawi’s referees also failed to make it to the recent Cosafa Under-20 Championship which took place in Zambia. Patrick Ngoleka, who was earmarked for the competition, was dropped after failing a fitness test.
Of late, Malawian referees have been at the centre of match-fixing allegations and some were banned in Mzuzu. Overall, the only consolation for Malawi is that Fifa assistant referee Bernadettar Kwimbira-
Mzika is among 12 referees and assistant referees from Africa selected to officiate at the Fifa Under-17 and Under-20 Women’s World cups scheduled for next year.
Kwimbira-Mzika is also in line for Fifa Women’s World Cup scheduled for France in 2019 after being selected in the preliminary officiating panel comprising second assistant referee Lidwine Rakotozafinoro from Madagascar and main referee Gladys Lengwe of Zambia.
“The list of candidates takes into account several qualities, including game performances, football understanding and fitness, and for the first time at this stage of preparations for the Women’s World Cup, Fifa is announcing referee trios,” reads refereeingworld.blogspot.com.
The Zomba-based Kwimbira- Mzika yesterday encouraged her compatriots to step up their performance if they are to scale greater refereeing heights.
“It is not surprising that no male Malawian referee has been selected for Chan because Malawi does not have a referee in the Elite A category.
“Football has evolved. For example, Fifa has instructed us to be training six days a week. They have given us heart-rate monitors that have GPS. You record your training regime and what you record, must tally with your heart-rate,” Kwimbira-Mzika said.
Moffat Champiti was the last Malawian referee to have officiated, as an assistant referee, at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Angola.
Bester Kalombo is considered Malawi’s refereeing great after officiating in several Afcon
editions and Olympic Games before working for eight years as Caf refereeing manager.
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