Written by MALAWI NEWS AGENCY
LILONGWE--Violence reared its ugly head yet again in Malawi football in a heated Lilongwe derby between TNM Super League leaders Silver Strikers and Epac FC at Silver stadium on Saturday.
Silver went into the game needing a win to move to within a point of winning a third successive league title but the tone for the rest of the afternoon was quickly set even before a ball had been kicked.
Two Silver Strikers supporters jumped the pitch fencing and walked towards the Epac goal to the dismay of an Epac official who tried to stop them. Then a fight started between the three and police had to separate them and lead the supporters out of the playing area.
The home fans sitting in the VIP stands reacted angrily to the incident and started to throw all sorts of objects at the Epac bench as the game was barely minutes old.
When the tension eased, the visitors suffered an early setback when they lost Stan Malata to a dislocated shoulder following an aerial challenge with two Silver players in the middle of the park.
Minutes later, Ishmael Thindwa who is in a three way tie for the league’s golden boot hit the post with a glancing header following a delightful cross from Christopher Kausile after 25 minutes.
Eight minutes later, the host broke the dead lock against the run of play. Rodrick Gonani who is challenging Thindwa for the top scorer award led a quick counter to set up Harvey Mkacha for the opening goal of the game.
Epac were dealt another blow at the start of the second half. Influential captain Tsanzo Dalio was stretched with a shoulder injury after landing heavily following an aerial challenge with Silver’s Dan Msimuko.
The injury to Dalio sparked the visitors into action and Epac got the equalizer their performance deserved. Man of the match Wonder Tumeyo delivered a corner from the left wing which Thindwa headed against the post but substitute Bright Phiri nodded home the rebound to level the scores at 1-1.
Phiri and his teammates run towards their supporters to celebrate their goal but Silver supporters in the nearby stand started throwing objects at the Epac players.
The visiting set of supporters responded and the two sets of fans started throwing any object they could find at each and it took the police and stewards about the five minutes to separate them during which referee Patrick Ngoleka stopped the game for at least six minutes to allow tempers to calm down.
Several fans were injured in the fracas including a few nasty looking injuries and two supporters, one from each side were arrested.
After the match Epac coach Abbas Makawa was delighted with the point but bemoaned the violence that ensued.
He said, “A draw is a good result for us, we played well and we should have won the game but the violence affected our momentum. It is sad that we should be talking about football violence again where innocent people get hurt.”
Silver assistant coach Hellings Mwakasungula said the draw was not the result they were looking for but it was not a bad result.
He said, “We really needed the three points but that how football is, sometimes you don’t get what you need. But we still have the advantage and we will recover and do the business in the next game.”
Silver lead the standings by 55 points, three ahead of second placed Big Bullets and both teams have two remaining to wind up the season. Silver need only three points to clinch the title.