Masters Security FC were caught unawares when they learnt at the 11th hour that striker Zeliat Nkhoma was ineligible to play for the Lilongwe-based side in Saturday’s game against Atletico Petroleos de Luanda at 11 November Stadium in Angola.
The former Mzuni FC striker was expected to start upfront alongside Juma Yatina but, during a pre-match meeting, Masters learnt that he was not eligible for the Confederation of African Football (Caf) Cup preliminary round first-leg match, having missed the January 31 2018 registration deadline.
In a post-match interview, Coach Abasi Makawa, who was forced to replace Nkhoma with Vincent Nyangulu before the game, said the development affected their game-plan.
“We planned to feature him during the first-leg but it was sad that he was not eligible to play the game,” said Makawa about Nkhoma who is also ruled out of the return-leg slated for February 20 at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.
Football Association of Malawi Transfer Matching System Manager, Casper Jangale, confirmed that Nkhoma was ineligible for the game, having been registered late.
According to Caf rules, there were two more windows for registering more players after the deadline. The first window run from January 1 to 15 2018 whereas the grace period is from January 16 to 31.
Masters, who returned home Monday, have a mountain to climb to overturn the tables in the second-leg. They need to score more than six goals to progress to the next round.