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Fixtures worry Big Bullets, Nomads

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The growing number of injuries in Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers’ camps has reached 15, with the Blantyre rivals faulting congested fixtures for the injuries.

In 14 days, Bullets have played against Blue Eagles, Azam Tigers twice and this weekend against Dwangwa United and Mafco whereas Wanderers have met Kamuzu Barracks twice, Blue Eagles, Epac, Prison United [today] and Mzuni [tomorrow] in that period.

Bullets and Wanderers, whose fixtures piled up after they contributed more players to the national team’s recent engagements in Namibia and Zimbabwe, are playing a game in every three days, sometimes two in back-to-back games when away.

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In top football leagues, a team plays once a week, partly because they have the luxury of venues with some games staged at night and midweek. Local facilities do not have flood lights. There is also a shortage of venues. There are six venues serving 15 Super League teams, national teams, youth and women’s football teams.

Bullets Vice General Secretary, Kelvin Moyo, said eight of his team’s first choice players sustained injuries upon returning from Namibia on Flames’ Cosafa Cup engagements.

“We have played too many games within a short period of time. This has resulted in player burn-out which has made our players prone to injuries. It is just too much,” Moyo explained.

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Bullets captain, Chiukepo Msowoya, admitted that it was tough playing many games, but the footballers have no choice.

Wanderers’ General Secretary, Mike Butao, said his team was forced to play four matches in eight days resulting in injuries.

“Our medical personnel have also blamed the worn out artificial turf at the Kamuzu Stadium for players’ injuries but we have also noted that too many games are doing us great harm,” he added.

Wanderers have eight players injured with five of them down with groin problems, one an ankle and the other a knee problem.

Wanderers’ Team Doctor, Enock Mwale, gave a new dimension to the injuries suggesting that insufficient rehabilitation of injuries and Kamuzu Stadium’s worn-out artificial turf might be worsening the injuries.

“Of course, it is not something that has been scientifically proven but these two teams train from Tuesday to Friday at the stadium then play actual games on the same pitch whose surface is now very hard. It is now like a slab covered with a carpet,” Mwale said.

Kamuzu Stadium Manager, Ambilike Mwaugulu, yesterday admitted that “there is a little element of hardness on the pitch but we have scheduled maintenance during the mid-season break at the end of August.”

Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Competitions and Media Manager, Gomezgani Zakazaka, is on record to have said the two teams would be put on a crash programme for them to catch up with others.

Sulom General Secretary, Williams Banda, recently said it was tough having league fixtures due to cup and national team engagements, adding that there is need to plan technically and administratively.

Karonga United coach, Kondwani Mwalweni, and Kamuzu Barracks’ assistant coach, Ted Kalinda, separately, also complained about the crammed fixtures.

Results of European Union Football Association (Uefa) ongoing study indicates that playing too many matches can lead to player fatigue, which may result in injuries especially to muscles.

“The fixtures constitute almost one third of all time-loss injuries in men’s professional football, and 92 percent of all injuries affect the four big muscle groups in the lower limbs. Hamstring muscle injury is the most common single injury, probably reflecting the velocity of elite level football,” reads the results of the study published on www. zeitschrift-sportmedizin.de/en.

A team with 25 players can expect an average of 15 muscle injuries per season, around 6-7 of them affecting the hamstrings.

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