In a sudden turn of events, Super League of Malawi (Sulom) has said the Blantyre derby involving Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers will go ahead as planned on January 2 2021.
Ironically, Bullets have suspended training until Monday after nine players for the People’s Team tested positive for Covid-19.
Bullets announced on Monday that nine team members tested positive for Covid-19 after three players Hassan Kajoke, Ernest Kakhobwe and Stanley Billiat had earlier tested positive last week.
In another round of testing, six players Mike Mkwate, Henry Kabichi, Nelson Kangunje, Mac Fallen Ngwira, Luke Chima, Richard Chimbamba and Covid-19 desk officer Yamikani Magombo have also tested positive for Covid-19. According to the club, few have flue like symptoms whereas the rest are asymptomatic.
Sulom President Tiya Somba-Banda insisted Tuesday that the matches will proceed as planned unless otherwise.
“We worked together with Bullets on the tests and we are glad that over 25 team members tested negative. In terms of games, we are following and not departing from the National Guidelines on Covid-19. Just like any other institution, work will still proceed for those who have tested negative and those who have tested positive will be in isolation until recovery,” Somba-Banda said.
Following the upsurge of Covid-19 cases in Bullets camp, the club has wrote Sulom asking for the postponement of the derby.
Bullets Chief Administrator Albert Chigoga confirmed Tuesday.
“We will fulfill our fixtures from weekend of January 9/10 and this has been communicated to Sulom for consideration. We have also appealed to Sulom to cancel or shift the derby given our present circumstances in which none of our goalkeepers is fit to play this weekend,” said Chigoga in a written response.
According to Sulom, Bullets registered 35 players for this season, of which five are semi senior, meaning they would be able to assemble a team if the derby would go as planned. The Football restart guidelines empower Sulom to make a determination in case a club fails to assemble a team due to Covid-19 cases in line with rules and regulations.
However, Sulom is yet to come clearly on the rules and regulations in such situations.
The National Guidelines on Covid-19 say that if one team member tests positive his/ her immediate contact should also be tested.
This means Moyale Barracks will be tested. Should a Moyale member be found positive, Mighty Tigers will also be tested as well.
Moyale General Secretary Flow Mwale said all the team members had been put in isolation until the tests were conducted.
“It will be good if the tests are conducted as soon as possible. But we are complying with all the guidelines at the moment to avoid further spread of the pandemic,” he said.
Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Executive Committee Member Chimango Munthali, who is also chairperson for the association’s Special Taskforce on Covid-19, said the National Guidelines on Covid-19 will be followed.
“We are working to test Moyale team members, if we get positive cases at Moyale then Tigers will also be tested as a procedure,” Munthali said.
As of Monday, the country had recorded 23 new cases coronavirus with 323 active cases in total.