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Fan dies after being hit by rock at game in Malawi

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BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) Police say a soccer fan died after he was hit by a rock thrown by rival supporters at a game in Malawi.

Police spokesman George Mulewa identified the fan as 25-year-old Boaz Mwesumo. Mulewa says an autopsy found that Mwesumo died of head injuries sustained in the violence Wednesday at a cup game between two third-tier teams, Kakoma FC and Chicago FC, in northern Malawi.

Mulewa says Chicago fans became “overexcited” when their team took a 2-0 lead. The rival supporters started fighting and Mwesumo was hit by a rock thrown from the Chicago supporters section. Police are investigating.

The death comes three months after eight people died in a stampede at a game in the Malawian capital Lilongwe marking the country’s independence from Britain.

There is an increase in football-related violence in the southern African country with poor crowd control.

Epic fail: Soccer refs banned after match-fixing goes wrong

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BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) Four soccer referees in the southern African country of Malawi have been banned for life for match-fixing after they received just $20 between them to fix a game and returned $15 to the team doing the bribing because it still lost.

Referee Aziz Nyirenda, assistant referees Limbani Chisambi and Stephano Gomani, and fourth official Jimmy Phiri, were all found guilty of fixing a national cup match between lower league team Nchalo United and Chitipa United.

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The match-fixing was revealed after Nchalo United, the team that bribed the refs, lost in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw and demanded its money back. When the referees could only stump up $15, Nchalo went to the authorities.

No sanctions have been announced against the team but there is a case against Nchalo pending.

The life ban for the four officials was announced by the Malawian referees association.

Although the result wasn’t what they were aiming for, Malawi National Referees Association general secretary Chris Kalichero said there was still an “element of game-fixing” by the officials and “when you commit such a crime, a life ban is the punishment.”

Chisambi, one of the assistant referees, denied wrongdoing, saying “”I never took (a) share of the money. It is so sad that my career has ended in this manner.”

Last year, another referee in Malawi was banned for life for incompetence.

Malawi withdraws from African Cup qualifying, has no money

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BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) The Malawi soccer association says it will withdraw from the qualifying competition for the 2019 African Cup of Nations because it can’t afford to fund its team’s campaign.

The Football Association of Malawi says it still needs to officially inform the Confederation of African Football of its intention to withdraw. It says it’s also pulling out of next year’s African Nations Championship.

Malawi is likely to face financial penalties and could be suspended from future tournaments.

The FAM says in a statement it is “fully aware of the negative implications” but the situation “cannot be avoided looking at the current level of desperation.”

Malawi also put on hold a search for a new head coach. Former Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar was one of the candidates.

CAF Qualifying, Group F: Nigeria through after beating Malawi

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The second of Africa’s World Cup qualifying rounds won’t be finished until tomorrow, when Cameroon and Libya play to determine who moves on from Group I. There’s also a late match on Saturday night, with Senegal and Uganda facing off to see who moves on from Group J.

But even before the match between Nigeria and Malawi kicked off, we already knew five of the ten countries that would advance to the third, and final, round of CAF qualifying. Earlier on Saturday, Central African Republic very nearly pulled off an upset that would’ve put South Africa through, but Ethiopia came back to win and advance. On Friday, Ghana beat Zambia to take top in Group D. Egypt, Algeria, and the Ivory Coast have also clinched a place in the final playoff round.

Now we add Nigeria, who beat Malawi 2-0 to advance. The Flames, who’d made it through to second in the second round of qualification by virtue of four draws and one win, had a rather spectacular explosion before their last spark flickered out. Just before the break, Emmanuel Emenike made it 1-0 to Nigeria. But rather than calming down during the interval, Malawi got a bit desperate. In the 52nd minute, they conceded a penalty, which Victor Moses converted beautifully. Moments later, Limbikani Mzava was shown a straight red. That was it for Malawi, and Nigeria cruised on through to victory.