Transfer wrangles, abandoned play-offs, court injunctions and Club Licensing System deadlines molded preparations for the 2016 TNM Super League season, but focus would be on the pitch when the action kicks off Saturday afternoon.
League action often leads to tired legs in the course of a season, but the preparations for the new season have led to tired minds following off-the-pitch activities that remain unresolved.
In the build-up to the season, giants Be Forward Wanderers and Nyasa Big Bullets were involved in a transfer controversy over midfielder, Jafali Chande, who made a switch to the blue side of town, but has not yet donned the Nomads jersey following a stand-off with his former club over contractual issues.
The People’s Team produced a contract that stated that Chande was contracted to Bullets until 2017, but the player also flashed out his contract which expired last February.
The player was summoned to police, two people were arrested over possible forgery of the contract, with Football Association of Malawi (Fam) referring the issue to its Disciplinary Committee.
Apart from the Chande saga, Super League of Malawi’s (Sulom) are also hands akimbo as Dedza Young Soccer got a court injunction against promotional play-offs involving Wizards FC and Airborne Rangers.
Dedza argued that they deserved to remain in the league as they finished 13th last year, but Sulom insisted that it never gave that assurance. Dedza has since vacated the injunction while also pulling out from the play-offs.
With Rangers pulling out due to financial constraints, Wizards are favourite to return to the Super League. The league, thus, kicks off amid these impasses.
Another hot issue in the pre-season was Club Licensing system implementation with only Wanderers and Mzuni earning full licences while Bullets, Blue Eagles, Dwangwa United and Silver Strikers received provisional licences.
Moyale Barracks, Civo United, Epac FC, Kamuzu Barracks, Red Lions, Mafco, Max Bullets and Azam Tigers were waiting for their fate yesterday after submitting new documents.
The process led to clubs employing coaches with Caf B badges, leading to changes at Wanderers (Jack Chamangwana taking over) and Bullets where Franco Ndawa stepped in for Mavuto Lungu.
Fam and Sulom also held a stakeholders’ meeting where it was resolved to remove fans from the gates and cancel complimentary tickets in order to maximise revenue collection.
Focus would be on how effective that would be.
On the transfer market, Silver Strikers under coach Young Chimodzi, released 10 experienced players and brought in 16 youngsters, including former Wizards players Mark Fodya, Brighton Munthali, Levison Maganizo and Thuso Paipi.
Defending champions Bullets strengthened their defence with John Lanjesi, Emmanuel Zoya and George Nyirenda while Muhammad Sulumba, Amadu Makawa and Mike Mkwate came in to offer attacking options.
Wanderers signed former Flames forward Peter Wadabwa from Silver, re-signed Foster Namwera, got on board Ernest Tambe, Rafik Namwera and Japanese forward Genki Nakamura.
Nakamura would be the player to watch after coming in with a lot of hype following his exploits across the globe. He, however, sat out the Nomads’ 2-0 loss to Bullets in the Fam Charity Shield last weekend.
Well, after all is said and done, the real talking will be on the pitch when Bullets and Moyale Barracks mark the official launch of the 2016 season at Kamuzu Stadium this afternoon.
“We want to make a good start at home to show our intent that we are ready to defend the title. We are not under any pressure because we believe in our capabilities,” Ndawa said.
In other matches lined up today, Civo United host Kamuzu Barracks while Mafco entertain Mzuni at Chitowe Stadium.
Tomorrow, Red Lions host Epac at Balaka Stadium, Silver welcome Wanderers, Azam Tigers face rookies Max Bullets at Kamuzu Stadium, and Dwangwa United invite Blue Eagles.
Wanderers’ coach Jack Chamangwana has called for improvement from his side.
“We did not defend well against Bullets. We must surely improve in that department and attack well to start fulfilling our potential and make a good start to the season,” he said.
So, the long rugged journey to glory land begins today, but come December, the best team would be crowned champions and take home K15 million prize money. Let the games begin!
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