Football

That was ugly at Levy!

Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
CROWD trouble showed its ugly head again during a Super Division Week 24 match between champions Zesco United and Nkana at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola last Friday.What was more embarrassing was that the incident happened in the presence of South African top side Orlando Pirates, who were in the country for pre-season training.
In both instances that raised controversy, referee Wiseman Musako was spot on.
Musako cautioned Nkana striker Idris Mbombo for simulation, which did not go well with Nkana fans, who resorted to throwing all sorts of objects on the pitch. The match was stopped for six minutes as police officers moved in to restore order.
Towards the end of the match, Zesco defender Marcel Kalonda handled and Musako’s sharp eyes spotted the incident and he awarded Nkana a penalty.
Zesco players protested, prompting their fans to take the law into their own hands and unleashed assorted objects on the pitch.
The match was abandoned at 2-2 because the match commissioner, in consultation with match officials, took the safety of the players into consideration.
There was no need for both sets of fans to engage in violence because the referee handled the match in a fair manner.
Football has rules and all those that associate with the beautiful game should abide by the regulations without fail.
This is the 21st century and we cannot allow violence to take centre stage at football matches.
I am eagerly waiting for the verdict of the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) disciplinary committee.
As hosts, the onus was on Zesco to provide adequate security to counter all forms of violence.
With enough police officers, troublemakers could have easily been identified and brought to book. SuperSport television cameras showed some fans openly throwing assorted objects on the pitch.
Zesco and Nkana are big brands locally and on the continent and should sensitise their fans on the importance of staying away from violence.
Violence has no place in football and other spheres of life.
Zesco and Nkana should come down heavily on perpetrators of violence in a bid to deter would-be offenders.
It is high time Super Division clubs invested in technology that would enable them to identify troublemakers. It is better to have a few fans than having a huge cadre of violent supporters.
It is encouraging that Government, through Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo, has stepped in by summoning Zesco and Nkana officials to hear their side of the story over the incident.
Violence needs to be curbed before it is too late.
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I am calling on under-20 national team coach Charles Bwale to sharpen the strike force ahead of Saturday’s decisive 2019 Niger Africa Cup of Nations final round return leg against Burundi in Bujumbura.
The junior Chipolopolo could have beaten Burundi by a cricket margin had the players been clinical in the final third.
Bwale should ensure that all the flaws exposed by Burundi are worked on so that the Africa under-20 champions can travel to Niger to defend their crown next year.
Go and conquer, boys, and build on the 1-0 win.
Find me on sphiri@daily-mail.co.zm, phiristeve4@gmail.com

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