After hanging dangerously on the cliff of uncertainty following sponsor, TNM’s brief withdrawal of sponsorship, the elite TNM Super League is finally here with the launch scheduled for Saturday in Lilongwe.
Forget that there is an acute shortage of venues. Nine matches will still be played in the opening week with defending champions, Kamuzu Barracks’ (KB) playing against cup specialists, Be Forward Wanderers, at Civo Stadium headlining the 2017 show.
Some 16 teams, pride and K15 million at stake but at the end of the season, there can only be one winner and three losers at the bottom.
Last season, KB did a Leicester City by snatching the championship from the noses of the dithering giants such as Nyasa Big Bullets, Silver Strikers and Be Forward Wanderers.
But the honeymoon is now over for KB. The soldiers have an uphill task defending the title in the face of opposition from star-studded Wanderers, record 13- time winners, Nyasa Big Bullets, and determined Silver Strikers who have bought 11 players.
Midfielders Harvey Mkacha, Dave Banda, striker Manase Chiyesa and goalkeeper Lemani Nthala are KB’s key arsenal, but Coach, Billy Phambala, badly needs plan B when A flops as was the case in the pre-season.
KB must avoid starting this season like Leicester who have found themselves fighting against relegation instead of defending the title.
Still in Lilongwe, Silver have bought big, including Ghanaian striker, Mike Tetteh and Nigerian defender, Yinusa Olanrewaju. The return of Chimodzi brothers, Tawonga and Young junior, has completed the puzzle.
But to win their elusive ninth league championship, Coach, Lovemore Fazili, needs to sharpen his striking force and render Area 47 a no-gone zone for visiting teams again.
In Blantyre, Bullets have deceived many into believing they have a paper thin squad. But when you look at the team closely, you realise that, save for the frontline which looks lightweight with Muhammad Sulumba, Diverson Mlozi, Mussa Manyenje, Collen Nkhulambe and Dave Banda, the Blantyre giants are not bad.
After all, in Coach, Nsanzurwimo Ramadhan, they have a strategist to win games.
On paper, rivals, Wanderers look awe-inspiring in every department, but veteran trainer, Yasin Osman, has a difficult job of keeping his stars such as Joseph Kamwendo, Jafali Chande, Peter Wadabwa, Lucky Malata, Francis Mlimbika happy, in shape and consistent.
Elsewhere, the entry into the league of rookies, Chitipa United, returning Blantyre United and Masters Security has made matters interesting, especially considering that the Benjamin Kumwenda-coached Lilongwe team has opted to buy success with big name signings such as Simplex Nthala and Robin Ngalande. The verdict is out.
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