from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka & WELLINGTON TONI in Harare
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – CHARACTERISED by a team’s refusal to fulfil a fixture and high number of positive coronavirus (COVID-19) tests, the curtains have abruptly come down the Zambian elite football league.
The government has ordered the cancellation of the campaign amid the chaos in the MTN Super Division after 27 of the 34 rounds played.
Eventually, Nkana FC were crowned champions following a goalless draw against Forest Rangers.
With the COVID-19 ravaging the country and concerns over the lack of readiness by the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) to meet the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO), it was always going to be an ill-advised move to resume the games.
Because of contractual obligations between the league, its sponsors and broadcasters, the 2019/2020 season had to be completed at all cost.
Unsurprisingly, it degenerated into a stop-start campaign to finish the league.
In the past three weeks, as safety measures were not adhered to, personnel contracted the virus.
A high number of players, notably 17 from one team last week tested positive.
As that was not enough, another premiership team refused to honour its fixtures as a result of fear of coronavirus infection.
For Zimbabwean players plying their trade in the neighbouring country, it has been a nightmarish wait for the conclusion of the season.
The best player in the Zimbabwean league last season, Joel Ngodzo, who plays for Buildcon, was among those affected.
Another is Tafadzwa Rusike, at former champions, Zesco United.
There is also a sprinkling of other players like Thabani Kamusoko, Ocean Mushure and Elisha Muroiwa in the Zambian league.
Zambia has 8,210 COVID-19 cases, including 241 deaths.
Focus now shifts to South Africa’s Absa Premiership, which resumed this past weekend after five months of inaction.
The Nedbank Cup marked the resumption.
League action resumed on Tuesday, in a country with around 563,598 cases and over 10,621 deaths as of Tuesday.
In Botswana, the league was called off in June and Jwaneng Galaxy crowned champions. Botswana has 1,066 cases and two deaths.
– CAJ News