The Zambian Soccer League made a return this past weekend, even if there was something of a false start on Saturday when leaders Forest Rangers could not take to the field for their clash with Zanaco after a number of positive COVID-19 tests in their camp.
But the action did finally get back under way on Sunday with a double-header in Ndola, all played behind closed doors, but providing some excitement for fans in what is expected to be a tight run to the title this campaign.
Champions Zesco United had to come from behind to claim a 1-1 draw with relegation-threatened Kansanshi Dynamos, a sign perhaps that for some teams it will be difficult to shake the rust after some four months on the sidelines.
Dynamos took the lead after Zesco star Clement Mwape turned the ball into his own net four minutes after halftime and at that stage a shock was on.
But the ever-reliable Kenyan international Jesse Were equalized for Zesco, who had to settle for a point in their first game back.
The other match on Sunday also ended in a 1-1 draw as Buildcon and Power Dynamos took home a point each.
Biston Banda put Power Dynamos in front after 16 minutes, but Buildcon equalized through Chanda Mushili to secure the draw.
Forest Rangers saw their game on Saturday postponed after 28 positive COVID-19 tests out of 58 conducted among players ad staff. Seventeen of the positive tests were players.
“So it came to pass that the resumption of our league took off this weekend,” Football Association of Zambia President Andrew Kamanga said on Monday. “It was not an easy undertaking that saw us flirt with the idea of abandoning the whole process.
“But the kind of crisis the world is currently going through does not require people that jump ship at the slightest sight of danger. After all, we have all been reminded of the challenges of living in the ‘New Normal’ order.
“We were happy that everyone showed high levels of commitment to ensure that the return of our game is made a reality.
“Going forward, we are confident that we should be able to see out the remainder of the fixtures with strict adherence to the Ministry of Health guidelines.
We have taken note of the gaps and will work round the clock to ensure that things get better going forward.
“We shall continue working hand in hand with the superintending minister which is the ministry of sports and their counterparts at health to ensure that we review the situation regularly.”
Forest Rangers lead the league with 46 points from their 24 games, followed by NAPSA Stars (45 from 25), Green Eagles (44 from 24), Zesco United (43 from 25), Nkana (43 from 24) and Lusaka Dynamos (40 from 25).