The first day of the 2019/2020 FAZ Super Division restart on July 18 ended in bizarre circumstances when league leaders Forest Rangers pulled-out of their home date against Zanaco at the eleventh hour allegedly over positive Covid-19 tests in their camp.
Forest issued a statement just hours before kickoff that they have 28 positive cases from the 58 taken last week by the Ndola club.
Zanaco had already travelled to Ndola and FAZ assigned match officials for the match at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium before Forest dropped the bombshell.
FAZ general secretary Adrian Kashala later on Saturday morning held an emergency meeting in Ndola with Ministry of Health officials, Director of Sports John Zulu, National Sports of Council of Zambia acting General Secretary Raphael Mulenga and FAZ vice-president Rix Mweemba.
“We have not received any official correspondence from the Ministry of Health on the 28 positive cases recorded by Forest,” Kashala said after the emergency stakeholders meeting.
“Other games will continue as scheduled while we look into the case of Forest Rangers and Zanaco FC.”
It was later resolved that the match kickoff as scheduled later this afternoon.
Zanaco players then took to the field to for pre-match warm-up but Forest stayed put in the dressing room.
“We had a meeting with FAZ, we have discussed the entire episode and all of us were looking forward to kicking the ball and playing competitive football but our opponents have reasons why they didn’t play,” Zanaco CEO Marlon Kananda told his players after trooping back to the dressing room.
“The reason they (Forest) have given is their team tested positive- 17 of their players-but they are issues around that and that is being sorted out by the relevant people.
“We have made it very clear to them that we travelled for this game. If they knew that the team was not ready, (but) our colleagues did their tests last week, and got their results on Thursday, so they knew.
“There is a lot of confusion and we have told FAZ we will not play Forest, and to us this is a win, and we should now start focusing on playing Nkana on Wednesday.”
Forest came into the restart with a narrow one point lead on 46 points from 24 games with a match in hand while Napsa Stars are second but restart their campaign on August 1 with no game in hand.
Zanaco are 10th on 35 points from 21 points with four games in hand including the Forest match.
On Sunday, defending champions Zesco United will host Kansanshi Dynamos at the same venue in Ndola needing a win that will lift them from fifth to second on goal difference and within a point of town-mates Forest.
Power Dynamos will visit Buildcon in the early kickoff in the Sunday doubleheader at Levy Stadium.