Seven days might not be enough to give a full picture, but the first week of the 2017 TNM Super League season has offered weight to claims that the country is running short of quality strikers.
During the opening week, top teams—whose players coincidently were part of the blunt Flames squad that exited the African Nations Championship (Chan) after failing to score against Kenya and Madagscar twice a fortnight ago, struggled to score.
Nyasa Big Bullets travelled all the way to Mzuzu and failed to score when they drew 0-0 against rookies, Chitipa United, before losing 1-0 to Moyale Barracks.
Bullets Coach, Nsanzurwimo Ramadhan, is not panicking yet, attributing the impotence to the harsh away environment.
“We came back with a point but let other teams go there and see what they will come back with. It was one of those days when Lady Luck did not smile on us,” Ramadhan told MBC Radio 2 FM on Wednesday morning.
During the Mzuzu trip, Bullets featured Flames players such as Muhammad Sulumba, Dalitso Sailesi, Yamikani Fodya, Ernest Kakhobwe and John Lanjesi.
Another giant, Blue Eagles, who have over the years been flying starters to the league, could only settle for a barren draw against Mzuni FC in Lilongwe.
The cops featured Flames players such as Gilbert Chirwa. In the Southern Region, Silver strikers came back with one goal and two points after sharing 0-0 spoils with Premier Bet Wizards and 1-1 against Azam Tigers.
Silver, too, had in their expensively assembled squad Flames players such as Binwell Katinji.
The only giants who seemed to have lived up to expectations were Be Forward Wanderers who saw off Kamuzu Barracks (KB)1-0 at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe.
However, generally, a return of nine goals registered from nine games, was on the lower side, averaging one goal per game. Last season, seven games in the opening week raked in 13 goals.
Despite the league starting with pomp at Civo, it was the contrary on the pitch as all opening fixtures on Saturday produced two goals.
Goals only poured in Zomba on Sunday when Red Lions thrashed Blantyre United 4-1 with Innocent Bokosi, the 2015 top scorer, hammering a hat-trick.
Analysts said the situation explains why the Flames have been struggling to score in recent games.
Seasoned football commentator, Steve Liwewe Banda, was overheard complaining about poor finishing while doing live match commentaries for the Bullets and Wanderers games over the weekend.
“A Super League player must know the basics of the game. He should know how to control the ball, have shooting and passing abilities, but this is not what we are seeing this afternoon,” said Liwewe on Radio 2 FM.
Football analyst Charles Nyirenda, speaking in ZBS’s Soccer Show programme after the Flames were eliminated from Chan, said on average, most Super League strikers score once in five appearances, hence the Flames’ disastrous scoring record.
Another soccer pundit and former minister of sports, Moses Dossi, on Monday said the country needs natural strikers.
“If the players cannot score at club level, how do you expect them to score for the national team? We need natural strikers as was the case in previous years,” Dossi said.
But Dossi fell short of what he meant by natural strikers. Perhaps, he shares the school of thought that strikers are born and not made.
Last season’s Golden Boot Award winner Richard Mbulu and his runner-up Chiukepo Msowoya are now playing in Mozambique and South Africa, respectively.
It seems Mbulu and Msowoya’s boots are too big to fill. However, the picture might change once the likes of Bright Munthali, Ishmael Thindwa and Peter Wadabwa start playing.
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