Malawi’s biggest derby ends in tears: Police fire teargas to disperse angry football fans

The match between Be Forward Wanderers and Nyasa Big Bullets was abandoned with eight minutes to play due to violence from fans who were angry with the officiating team led by Gift Chicco.

The two teams played out to an entertaining match at Kamuzu Stadium and the scores were 1-1 after about 80 minutes but towards the last eight minutes, Police had to use tear gas to disperse angry supporters who were baying for the blood of the officiating officials.

Unlike previous derbies where the teams failed to bring it to life the way it promised to, the match was sparkled with end to end action as both teams played an open game in search for goals to entertain a handful of supporters who were allowed to watch the match under Covid-19 restrictions.

Bullets made a surprising line up when Mike Mkwate was handed his start to the first eleven after he was cleared on Tuesday to rejoin Bullets on a very short loan but Wanderers maintained the same first eleven that drew 2-2 with Blue Eagles a fortnight ago.

It was Wanderers who drew the first blood in 13th minute when an advanced Stainley Sanudi scored past Richard Chimbamba after receiving a cross from Felix Zulu, 1-0.

The goal was a wakeup call to Bullets who ended up pressing for goals but Yunus Sherrif was very outstanding at the back for the blue side of the town who, for the first time, dreamed of beating their cross-city rivals for the first time in eight years.

Bullets’ realistic chance fell through to Hassan Kajoke who was found unmarked in the penalty box only to produce a weaker shot which was easily saved by Richard Chipuwa.

Bullets came knocking again through MacFallen Mgwira who saw his low down cross well cleared by Cholopi for a corner which was cleared by the hosts.

In the second half, Bullets coach Kalisto Pasuwa brought in Meshack Seleman for Mgwira and this was the beginning of trouble for Wanderers who could not contain the quick winger.

Part of the game. Image credit: Wanderers Facebook Page

Bullets should have leveled in the 63rd minute when Seleman outsmarted Sanudi before feeding Zicco Mkanda who made a simple tap in only to miss the goal mouth with an inch.

In the 65th minute, Wanderers thought they had scored when Peter Cholopi’s header went into the net but referee Chicco blew his whistle on what looked like a foul on goalkeeper Chimbamba.

Bullets then brought in Ernest Petro for Chimango Kayira whilst Isaac Kaliyati came in for Peter Wadabwa.

In the 68th minute, the rivalry took its ugly turn when Sanudi manhandled assistant referee Bernadette Kwimbira after she awarded Bullets a goal kick to the disappointment of the full back who thought the ball had gone out for a corner.

Chicco stamped out his authority by flashing a yellow card to Sanudi before sending Ted Sumani off with a second yellow card following his outburst on Kwimbira.

With one-man advantage, Bullets looked more dangerous and it was just a matter of time before they equalized.

In the 70th minute, Seleman used his pace to outsmart Cholopi before sending a grass cutter into the box which was very difficult for Sherriff to clear and ended up scoring into his own net.

Bullets were coming wave after wave and they nearly found the winning goal when Gomezgani Chirwa delivered a cross into the box only for Kajoke to head the ball wide when Wanderers’ defense was caught snapping in the line of duty.

With eight minutes to play, ugly scenes took its turn when Wanderers supporters started throwing stones into the pitch, forcing the match to stop with more than 15 minutes.

It took Police’s intervention to calm the rioters but when play resumed, the players couldn’t continue as teargas had already flooded the pitch which resulted into the players running to the dressing room and that was all for the day as the Police came to pick the officiating officials using their van, away from the angry crowd.

The Super League of Malawi is now expected to make a decision on the fate of the match.

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