MATHEWS NDANDULA writes
JUST as the Eden University National Division One and Premier League games were set to resume, the fate of the tourney was thrown in suspense following the announcement of Covid-19 cases in the Forest Rangers camp.
An emergency stake holders meeting, held at Levy Mwanawasa stadium in the morning after the Rangers’ announcement of 28 Covid-19 positive cases, concluded that the games would go ahead as scheduled.
In the first match of a scheduled double header, Kitwe United lost to Police College by two goals to one.
A brace from Harrison Zulu of Police College in 89 and 90 minutes respectively who was introduced in the second half was enough to beat the Chingalika Boys who only managed to score once.
Shortly, before the 13:00hrs kick off, the Football Association of Zambia announced the postponement of the match following advice from the Ndola Public Health office.
Meanwhile, Director of Sports in the Ministry of Youth and Sports John Zulu told the media that the league will continue as planned despite the news which broke out.
“I just bring the message of encouragement, I am just from talking to the minister and he is happy that all the teams are ready to start the League today.
You may wish to note that it’s not only Zambia which is looking at what is going to happen today I think it’s the whole Africa and beyond our continent we are all desirous to see that the game of football starts,” he said.
“We are aware that the starting as usual may not be as smooth as expected I think it’s in public eyes and ears of what is floating around the message from my superior is that the League should start today though I think I wish to express a bit of concern that we need to up our game in adhering to the health guidelines.
“These guidelines are a derivative of statutory instruments which are public and were brought to the fore by our President through the Minister of Health.”
Zulu noted that the future of sports in a Covid-19 era required strict adherence to public health guidelines, failure to which the league would be suspended.
“For today we know that nearly all teams do not have results apart from one team. I think we are way off, but we are saying we shall go and we’re going to have contingency measures where we going to have players and whoever would be near the playing pitch to be tested in terms of temperature,” Zulu added.
“We want the league to end on the pitch not in the boardroom and we shall push their agenda together through the National Sports Council and Football Association of Zambia because we want fair play and fair play on the pitch.”
And Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) general secretary Adrian Kashala said there is no formal communication received towards the news of players testing positive.
“From FAZ angle we only received two challenges from two clubs I think that he made efforts to help the players test and we have been told that they had challenges with the reagents to make that logical process possible and from our end again we have reports that some clubs have taken the tests but results are not ready yet we have consulted the authorities and they’ve given guidance, by the authorities in view off this weekend s games , we also hear from the grapevine that some clubs have most of their players testing positive but we have not received any formal respondents yet,” said Kashala.
And speaking after the emergency meeting National Sports Council of Zambia acting general secretary Raphael Mulenga said everyone has to play a role in protecting one’s life.
Premier League log leaders Forest Rangers become the first team to record Covid-19 cases.
Forest rangers media and public relations officer Christina Zulu confirmed the development to the media in a statement.
“Forest rangers football players and support staff took tests earlier this week and a total number of 58 took the test, from which 30 were negatives earlier reported and 28 positive cases,” she said.
This comes on the wake of the resumption of the FAZ/MTN Premier League after a long break due to the restrictions Government placed on all sports activities to prevent the spread of the virus.
Forest Rangers was supposed to play yesterday in a late kick off match at Levy Mwanawasa stadium against Zanaco FC.
Currently Forest Rangers is on topping the FAZ/MTN Premier league table with 43 points having played 23 games and two points ahead second placed Green Eagles who are on 41 points with Nkana lying third on 40 points.