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Karonga United give up venue fight

By Bernard Mhone:

Karonga United have eaten humble pie and accepted to play the Airtel Top 8 Cup semifinal against Mzuni at Mzuzu Stadium on June 15.

After Football Association of Malawi (Fam) released the competition’s fixture last week, Karonga United Chairperson, Alufeyo Chipanga, protested against the decision to have the game played in Mzuzu and asked for a neutral ground.

Chipanga said playing the match at Mzuzu Stadium would favour Mzuni as they would be at home.

But in an interview Thursday, Chipanga said they would still cover the 220-kilometre distance to honour the fixture and win the game.

“We will go to Mzuzu very unhappy with Fam’s decision. It is unfair to us as the first team to qualify for the quarter finals. However, we will still travel to Mzuzu and face Mzuni at their backyard because they have not listened to us.

“We will go there and prove that we are the kings of football in the Northern Region. We will defeat them before their own fans and proceed to the final,” he said.

Chipanga said the best venue for the encounter could have been either Chitowe or Kasungu stadia.

“Masters Security and Silver Strikers are playing at a neutral venue but our game is at Mzuni’s homeground. Both Chitowe and Kasungu stadiums are in better shape compared to Mzuzu Stadium and playing there could have been ideal for both Karonga and Mzuni,” he added.

Masters and Silver will be in action on June 16 at a neutral venue, Civo Stadium, in Lilongwe.

Football Association of Malawi Facility and Transfer Matching System Manager, Casper Jangale, said the association’s Article 8, which covers schedule and conduct during matches, mandates them to identify venues for games.

“It is the organising committee which has the final say upon considering factors like security at the venue. It is very clear that the venue, date and time of matches shall be determined by the organising committee as per draw.

“The committee has absolute powers to decide where a game will be played. We are wondering why teams act as if they were not briefed,” Jangale said.

The competition has no defending champions after last year’s winners, Blue Eagles, finished outside the top eight in the 2018 TNM Super League.

The final is also set to be a Central Region versus Northern Region affair after the only Southern Region team, Be Forward Wanderers, failed to go beyond the quarterfinals.

Nyasa Big Bullets were banned from the competition after violent scenes surrounding the 2018 final at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.

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