D-Day for Zambian Super Division as cases surge

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Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
THE Football Association of Zambia are monitoring the Covid-19 crisis in the country to decide whether to continue with the campaign or bring it to a halt. The country’s football leaders are set to meet in Lusaka today where they could come with a binding position regarding the matter.

A number of Zimbabwean footballers ply their trade in Zambia.

The country became the first Southern African nation to restart its football a few weeks ago.

But, concern has been rising as more infections, among players and officials, are reported by clubs.

The latest club to be hit are Napsa Stars ahead of their Super Division match against Buildcon.

“Napsa Stars Football Club wish to inform its supporters and the football fraternity that on Monday, July 2020, Napsa Stars FC undertook Covid-19 tests in line with Football Association of Zambia directive to all clubs to undertake the tests before resuming the league,” the club said.

“The results of the tests came out yesterday (Tuesday) and a total of 19 players and officials (15 players and four staffs) tested positive for Covid-19.

“All the positive players and officials have so far gone on self-isolation in line with the Ministry of Health guidelines.

“The club is in touch with the Ministry of Health that these are closely monitored to avoid further spread of the virus. The rest of the team has continued with the preparations for the upcoming matches.

“Napsa Stars further commit to fulfilling its fixtures despite the current circumstances that have forced the team to make some important adjustments.’’

The Stars’ next opponents are home to reigning Zimbabwe Soccer Star of the Year, Joel Ngodzo, who joined the club from CAPS United in the off-season.

Former Ngezi Platinum Stars speedster, Donald Teguru, is also at Buildcon.

Napsa Stars board chairman, Choka Nsofu, said all those involved in Zambian football needed to adhere to the guidelines of the health authorities.

“The health of our players and officials is of utmost importance to us,” Nsofu told Goal.com.

“Therefore, we will continue to monitor our football activities under very strict health guidelines that are recommended by our health authorities and the Football Association of Zambia.

“I would like to make an appeal for our players, the fans and the general members of the football fraternity to adhere to all measures including wearing of masks, social distancing and hand sanitisation.”

Late yesterday, FAZ president, Andrew Kamanga, said they will continue to actively monitoring the Covid-19 situation in the country.

“We are actively monitoring the situation and should need be, we will inform the nation on how we proceed with the completion of the league; whether we will continue on this path or not,’’ Kamanga said in remarks published by the association’s official Facebook page.

“If it becomes unattainable, a decision has to be made to either stop the league or declare it null and void but that’s the decision which will be made by the executive.”

The FAZ boss was speaking on the sidelines of a Video Analysis and Scouting course in Lusaka.

“Regrettably, the flow of results has been a bit slow, not because the Ministry of Health didn’t want, but simply because of the situation at hand because suddenly, we have had a high incidence of cases and the numbers have been going up,’’ Kamanga said.

“We will have a report, and look at where we are and, ultimately, decisions will be made in the best interest of the footballers themselves and also taking into account what is obtaining on the ground.’’

He said they had agreed that, going forward, all teams should be tested 72 before any fixture with results available 48 hours before any match.

The number of positive Covid-19 cases at Napsa Stars is the second-highest, from a single club, since Forest Rangers revealed their camp had been hard hit just before the league resumed on July 18.

The club said tests done on their players and staff members had retained 28 cases of positive infections just before their league match against Zanaco in Ndola.

The match was subsequently postponed.

Yesterday, a league match was played in Zambia with Zanaco beating Green Eagles 1-0.

Zanaco had former Dynamos striker, Evans Katema, on their bench.

Buildcon and Zesco United, who both have Zimbabwean players on their ranks, have two confirmed cases.

Meanwhile, the South African Premiership, which has the largest number of Zimbabwean players in its ranks, is set to get underway after the venues were released for the matches.

All the matches in the PSL, and the National First Division, will be played in Gauteng’s bio-bubble.

  • South African Premiership Restart Venues
  • Mamelodi Sundowns – Dobsonville Stadium
  • Highlands Park – Dobsonville Stadium
  • Orlando Pirates – Ellis Park
  • Golden Arrows – Ellis Park
  • Kaizer Chiefs – Orlando Stadium
  • Chippa United – Orlando Stadium
  • Bidvest Wits – FNB Stadium
  • Black Leopards – FNB Stadium
  • Baroka FC – Bidvest Stadium
  • SuperSport United – Bidvest Stadium
  • Cape Town City – Loftus Stadium
  • Polokwane City – Loftus Stadium
  • AmaZulu FC – Lucas Moripe Stadium
  • Maritzburg United – Lucas Moripe Stadium
  • Bloemfontein Celtic – Tuks Stadium
  • Stellenbosch FC – Tuks Stadium