Sport

Inconclusive end

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SO, the Super Division comes to an end tomorrow with Nkana and NAPSA Stars fighting for the league title in what has turned out to be a two-horse race going into the final round of matches.
Although it’s a two-way battle, in reality, Nkana are not doing any battle tomorrow. All they have to do is to just show up at Nkana Stadium tomorrow dressed as if they are prepared to play the match and wait for the non-arrival of Nakambala Leopards, the Mazabukabased team, whose sponsors Zambia Sugar have taken a hardline stance against the coronavirus outbreak such that they have not allowed their team to return to group training.
Barring victory for NAPSA Stars in their game against Forest Rangers tomorrow, Nkana will grab their 13th record extending league title. But it has been a topsy-turvy conclusion to the campaign that I doubt whether Nkana will look back on this trophy – should they go on to grab it – with the same pride as they did with the other 12. Or indeed NAPSA, who would have grabbed their first ever. Or still any other team after only playing 27 games.
Already, Power Dynamos coach Perry Mutapa thinks his team would have cracked the top four if the league had been able to reach its logical conclusion. Based on their result against Forest Rangers on Monday, you need to give them the benefit of doubt. There will certainly be many teams feeling that way. Nakambala have not helped matters. Their non-participation somehow put the legitimacy
and integrity of the whole championship into question.
To go ahead with the league without getting everyone on board was the first mistake made. To insist on going ahead even with all the
indications that the conditions were not right was another mistake. To allow for two more rounds of play after admitting that the conditions were not right was another follow-up mistake. Let us just say a lot of mistakes (which were avoidable anyway) have been made.
There was nothing to warrant the insistence on resuming the league in the wake of the high number of positive cases that teams were returning for COVID-19. Forest, who rightly so refused to take part in their match against Zanaco when 28 members of their team reported positive for COVID-19 and paid the ultimate price through deduction of three points, have been deprived of a genuine chance for a fairytale. No-one knows how it would have ended, but they certainly looked a shoe-in for a top-four finish. In a normal or at least near-normal season, theirs would have been a story told over and over. If there is any comfort for them, for capitulating at the penultimate stage, they can point out that the conditions were not right for them to prepare as they were unable to train as a team owing to the COVID-19 positive cases in the team.
Isn’t it strange that we were the only ones on the continent together with Burundi and Tanzania who insisted on going ahead with play? South Africa is set to follow suit, but under different conditions.
Whichever way you look at it, the return to play was hurried. In as far as this league campaign is concerned, it will end tomorrow without concluding.
dekatchk@gmail.com or kkachingwe@daily-mail.co.zm



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