Top Malawian male referees and assistant referees continue being sidelined by Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) due to several reasons bordering on incompetence.
The CAF Confederation Cup and Champions League preliminary round kicked off last weekend and top local referees Dennis Ngulube, Duncan Lengani and Patrick Leo Ngoleka are conspicuously missing on match officials list.
Assistant referees Edward Kambatuwa, Innocent Kaundula, Festone Kusekuse and Hendrix Maseko are also left out.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) referees desk officer Maxwell Mtonga said most of the referees cannot be assigned matches since they are serving suspensions.
In November, FAM slapped referees Ngoleka and Ngulube with five months’ suspension each for various offences. Ngoleka, was suspended for poor officiation during a TNM Super League encounter between Epac FC and MTV Max Bullets at Civo Stadium.
During the game, the referee allowed a goal to stand despite earlier blowing for a foul to Epac FC after Max Bullets took the lead through Abraham Kamwendo in the first-half.
Ngulube was suspended for feigning illness while officiating the Carlsberg Cup final between Be Forward Wanderers and Silver Strikers at Kamuzu Stadium. He also failed physical fitness test in December and will only be eligible after successfully taking the test again.
Lengani on the other hand, was suspended by CAF for incompetence after he incorrectly recorded a yellow card on a player during a CAF Confederation Cup last year in Mauritius.
Mtonga said the suspensions apply to international competitions. He said: “We report all local suspensions to Fifa, CAF and Confederation of Southern Africa Football Association (Cosafa). We are all under one body Fifa and as such the suspension have an impact in all competitions.
“Malawi had no representation at the Cosafa Cup due to the same reasons. That is why Lengani and Ngoleka were withdrawn from 2016 Cosafa Cup in Namibia because they were serving suspensions.”
But Nguluwe said he was not aware that his suspension also applied at international level.
“What I know is that I did not complete a fitness test because it was rainy, that is why I am not being assigned games. I will take another fitness test on March 4 and my name will be back on that list,” he said.
Lengani, on the other hand, said he was surprised that they were sidelining him after completing his suspension.
“I served my three months suspension from July last year,” he said. “Anyway it’s up to CAF to pick whom they want for matches. Besides that, Malawi cannot have more refs because we do not contribute teams to Champions League and Confederations Cup.”
The full list of Malawi’s 10 Fifa referees is as follows: Chizinga, Lengani, Ngoleka, Nguluwe. Assistant referees: Edward Kambatuwa, Kanduku, Innocent Kaundula, Festone Kusekuse, Luwizi, Hendrix Maseko.
Meanwhile, Ishmael Chizinga is the only centre referee assigned to officiate Confederation Cup match between Ngezi Platinum and Pamplemousses in Zimbabwe this Friday.
This will be Chizinga’s first international assignment and he will be assisted by compatriots Jonisio Luwizi and Clemence Kanduku while Joshua Bondo from Botswana will be match commissioner.