Northern Region-based TNM Super League teams have missed out on the October 17 resumption of training in preparation for the kick off of the 2020/21 season because of the late delivery of Covid-19 test kits.
The teams are Moyale Barracks, Mzuzu Warriors, Karonga United, Chitipa United and Ekwendeni Hammers.
The development leaves the five teams in a race against time to complete their preparations ahead of next month’s kickoff of the new season.
Their Southern and Central Region counterparts resumed training on Monday after the majority of their players’ tests came out negative.
Sulom Covid-19 Desk Officer, Zacharia Nyirenda, said the kits arrived in Mzuzu yesterday.
“Testing of Mzuzu-based teams [Moyale, Ekwendeni and Warriors] commenced immediately after arrival of the kits. The teams will get their results on Friday [today] and then we will go to Karonga to test Karonga United and Chitipa United players.
“The two teams should expect their results either on Monday or Tuesday. We are also very concerned that these teams will be affected in this way. It was not our intention to delay their resumption of training,” Nyirenda said.
Ekwendeni Coach, Edson Kadenge Mwafulirwa, described the delay as unfortunate.
“This delay will affect our training programs. This will put us under pressure as we have only three weeks to prepare for the new season. This is a worrisome development. We will not have enough time to prepare.
“Remaining idle for a whole week when our Southern and Central region counterparts have returned to training is very counterproductive. We wanted to start with physical training and coordination but this unfortunate development means we will be forced to skip what we had arranged,” Mwafulirwa said.
Karonga Coach, Dan Dzinkambani, attributed the failure to deliver the kits on time to lack of planning.
“We can only start training either on Tuesday or Wednesday next week. This gives us only two or three weeks of training before the season kicks off. This puts us at a big disadvantage because our colleagues in the South and Centre have already had a whole week of training. This could have been avoided with better preparation on the part of the authorities,” Dzinkambani said.
Lilongwe-based football analyst, George Chiusiwa, said Northern Region Super League teams will be disadvantaged as they will have less time for preparations.
“This demonstrates lack of proper and effective preparation for football’s restart. It is clear that we were not ready to resume organised football activities in November. Already, the set time for teams to prepare for the season’s kickoff is inadequate,” Chiusiwa said.
He said to ensure fairness and leveling of the playing field when the season kicks off, Sulom should revise the league’s fixtures to consider the delayed commencement of preparations by Northern Region teams.
Chiusiwa said Fam should also think of revising its competitions’ fixtures to make up for the lost time.
“Ordinarily, such basic aspects as testing players were supposed to have been carried out a long time ago. This is because all concerned authorities on football restart were aware of the calendar and related developments as they had been discussing along the way. There are no excuses. To say it bluntly, football teams have been given a raw deal by authorities on the matter,” he said.