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Blue Eagles soar, rookies snore

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The 2016 TNM Super League opening stanza wound up last Sunday in similar fashion to the way it started— with Blue Eagles soaring, rookies snoring, Nyasa Big Bullets crawling, Be Forward Wanderers’ wandering and Silver Strikers merely promising bronze.

Dismissed as an incorrect answer to the question of Malawi’s own Leicester City, Eagles tormented and abused Wizards 6-0 last Wednesday for the cops to finish where they started—the summit with 32 points from 15 games.

A league is a marathon, but Derklerk Msakakuona opted for a splint with Maxwell Salambula, Victor Nyirenda and Gilbert Chirwa ensuring that the departure to Mozambique of captain John Banda was trivia.

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The cops cruised, going six games unbeaten on the bounce, only for the wheels to come off after a ruthless 4-1 hammering by Kamuzu Barracks, a week after Moyale Barracks FC’s coach, Collins Nkuna, had predicted such doom.

All that is forgotten as Eagles finished on top.

However, Eagles would probably have not claimed the bragging rights of the first round had Silver not messed it up with two back-to-back 2-1 and 3-0 losses to Bullets and Mafco.

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When Silver lost the points and the plot in Dwangwa, it meant that they could only finish the round on 29 points.

Lying third are Mafco with 28 points, a point ahead of fourth-placed Moyale. On sixth and seventh positions with 24 and 25 points are noisy cousins, Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers, respectively.

Wanderers, inspired by joint-leading scorer Peter Wadabwa’s 11 goals, goalkeeper Richard Chipuwa and Foster Namwela, have lost thrice, won six and drawn six.

This is quite an improvement compared to their recent league campaigns. However, the 4-2 loss to Dwangwa last Sunday suggested that the Nomads are work in progress.

Despite early setbacks due to a lack of harmony in the squad, Eddington Ng’onamo stitched the wounds and brought unity, chemistry and hunger in the team.

Across the red side of Blantyre, Bullets finished the round with a goalless draw at Dwangwa United to make it six wins, seven draws and two losses in 15 games

Like Wanderers, Bullets—who spent a month out of action after contributing more players to the national team—have struggled to play catch up to Silver and Eagles.

Injuries to regulars such as John Lanjesi, Henry Kabichi, Chikondi Likwemba, and Sankhani Mkandawire did not help matters for Bullets. It meant that coach Franco Ndawa, who has already delivered the Presidential Cup, did not have the luxury of consistency in his starting XI.

The departure of Muhammad Sulumba, Mkandawire and Owen Chaima also undermines’ Bullets cohesion.

While Chiukepo Msowoya’s nine first round goals is impressive, Ndawa has struggled for a number 10 such as Jafali Chande and a holding midfielder in the mould of James Chilapondwa.

Nonetheless, all the teams that have hit the 20-point mark in the first round can win the championship.

Down the table, Wizards, Karonga United, Dwangwa United and Max Bullets are where you would normally expect them to be—bottom with 12, 11, 11 and seven points respectively.

Administratively, kick-off time improved, officiation remained a matter of hot debate. Cases of violence were few, but when they occurred, they were so scary. There was some dropping of the guard by the administrators.

On the financial front, despite missing the target by K16 million, revenue improved by 25 percent to K239 million. Attention was paid on players’ welfare but the take-home remains poor for the footballers. Coaches are still be abused by club owners. Max Bullets changed three coaches.

Back on the pitch, the struggles might continue in the second round down the table. Up the table, expect a dog-fight among Silver, Bullets, Wanderers, Mafco (if they can cope with the absence of leading scorer Richard Mbulu) and Moyale. Of course, just learn to spell that name Derklerk.

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