Mana — Silver Strikers’ Dutch coach, Pieter De Jongh says Mzuzu Stadium is in such a bad state that even his four-year-old dog would get injured playing on it.
He said this on Sunday after the Bankers’ game against Ekwendeni Hammers in which De Jongh was shown two yellow cards that translated into a red.
He said in an interview that the state of the Mzuzu Stadium pitch “a big shame”, while taking a swipe at sports authorities that they “should be doing things in a professional manner”.
He emphasized that it is a shame that professional football in Malawi is being played on bad pitches, saying: “How is it possible that professional football is being played on this bad pitch where I am even sure that my that my four-year-old dog would get injured playing at it.”
And on being evicted from the bench, the coach felt that the referee overreacted, saying: “At halftime, I received the first yellow card for simply asking the referee why there was no added time. Then in the second half, I was shown a second yellow for pointing out to the assistant referee that it was an offside and this is unfair.”
On Facebook, a football fan trending as Wa Ganyu described De Jongh’s example of his dog to literally mean the “dog is more wiser than the football authorities in charge of the pitch. Who cannot even see that the ground is in bad shape”.
Present at the match was Super League of Malawi (SULOM) president, Fleetwood Haiya, who urged teams to maintain discipline in order to improve football in the country.
He bemoaned behaviour, saying for a very long time incidents of indiscipline which had been occurring during matches had been going unpunished.
“However, before this season kicked off, for the first in the history of the Super League, we issued out a handbook containing rules and regulations, constitution and the entire league fixtures so that teams should be guided by the contents.
“If some chose not to follow the rules and regulations then I can assure you that they will be punished accordingly and as you have seen, referees have also upped their game and they are giving out cards where necessary.”
Last week, De Jongh also took a dig at football administrators for unprofessionalism regarding how they have handled the issue of Hassan Kajoke, who resigned to return to Nyasa Bullets.
In March, at the end of the Mzuzu City Half Marathon, Malawi National Council of Sports Board chairperson, Sunduzwayo Madise also lamented the poor state of stadium, saying it is unfit for athletes.
He thus said there is need to improve the country’s sports facilities to boost performance of Malawi athletes, saying: “This stadium is in poor state. There is no running water in dressing rooms, even the grass that was planted on the playing field is not fit for football games. These factors cannot help our athletes perform well.”
He added that it is sad that facilities such as Mzuzu Stadium are not taken care of and he promised to engage Mzuzu City Council to renovate the 15,000 capacity sporting facility that was built in 1970.
Also present for the Half Marathon — the first for Mzuzu City — was Minister of Youth & Sports, Uchizi Mkandawire, who said the government does not have resources to be used for repairing stadiums as at the moment, they are “looking into the construction of stadiums for Mighty Wanderers and Nyasa Bullets and Mzuzu Youth Centre”.
Mzuzu City Council public relations officer, MacDonald Gondwe told MANA that they had taken the concerns with a positive mind, saying they will look into the issues that have been highlighted to ensure that the stadium meets the recommended standards.
“We will further engage the Sports Council for additional views and map the way forward,” he had said.–Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira, Nyasa Times