9 November 2012

Zambia: Nkwazi Promotion Circus Unfortunate!


The 2012 MTN-FAZ soccer season has produced exciting games with fans now trooping to the various stadia in numbers to support their various teams and this weekend's finale promises to produce sparks.

Power Dynamos and Zanaco are vying for the K250-million Premier League winners' cheque and are separated by a point going into Saturday's fixtures.

The Kitwe side, on 59 points, are playing Red Arrows and need to better the bankers' result against Nkana. Zanaco have 58 points.

But while there is hype among many fans who are eagerly waiting to see who would be crowned champions of the Premier League on what promises to be a dramatic last day, confusion sadly characterised the promotion of Nkwazi back to the elite league.

It was rather disappointing that the FAZ secretariat could afford to make an error by ordering Nkwazi to replay their Week 34 match against Kascol Rangers after the Mazabuka side failed to turn up for the encounter at Edwin Imboela Stadium.

Luena Buffaloes were the other culprits who failed to pitch up at the Railway Grounds to play Kabwe Warriors while Chipata Young Stars found themselves entangled in the mess and equally ordered to play to follow uniformity.

Having closely followed the Division One South campaign this season, it was rather disappointing when I heard that the teams were ordered to replay their matches.

I was wondering how, if at all, this could happen when we have had a lot of unplayed games this season whose punishment ended at some teams forfeiting points and others awarded a 2-0 win as compensation.

I feel what happened to Nkwazi was an act of desperation by the FAZ secretariat to aid some team into the top flight because believe me, I do not think Nkwazi could have failed to beat Kascol at Edwin Imboela.

But the question remains as to what exactly should be done to avoid such a repeat of unplayed games in future especially when they border on promotion of some teams.

As the FAZ Premier League organising committee chairperson, Boniface Mwamelo observed, there is need to amend the constitution if teams were to be ordered to re-play their matches.

It was erroneous for the secretariat to order for a replay instead of referring the matter to the judicial bodies of FAZ - which is the disciplinary committee. The disciplinary committee has handled a lot of cases involving unplayed matches with teams being awarded points.

I am sure what happened has raised a lot of questions as to what exactly the secretariat was trying to achieve by ordering the teams to replay the games contrary to the rules and regulations that govern the game.

As FAZ president Kalusha Bwalya said on Monday, Zambia are African champions and thus everybody is copying, trying to see how the game is run in our country. But I doubt if we would want to lead by such an example.

Let us continue encouraging the spirit of fair play so that we can continue pulling the crowds that have passionately followed the local league this season.

Making decisions like the one the FAZ secretariat made on Monday might start turning away fans from local matches because they would want to watch teams win promotion on merit.

Hard as it is, it would be wise for the concerned teams to accept the disciplinary committee hearing outcome-though it is obvious who gets the championships and runners-up position. For comments: eliaschipepo@gmail.com.

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