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Regional leagues race against time

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The country’s regional football associations have limited time to identify their candidates for the 2021/22 TNM Super League as they need to declare a champion by July this year to suit the new football calendar.

Southern Region Football Association (SRFA), Central Region Football Association (CRFA) and Northern Region Football Association (NRFA) are yet to start their 2020 seasons due to Covid restrictions.

During a meeting at Nkopola Lodge in Mangochi District early this month, SRFA, CRFA and NRFA proposed to Football Association of Malawi (Fam) that their leagues kick off early next month.

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NRFA General Secretary Masiya Nyasulu said they met on Saturday to strategise on modalities of staging the 2020 Simso League season in three months.

Nyasulu said they agreed to run the 2020 season on a round-robin format, where their 18 clubs will be divided into three groups.

“We intend to use a round-robin format to meet the deadline of July. We will do whatever we can to ensure that we identify a champion. We know that it will not be easy to run our league in that manner as this is something we will be doing for the first time.

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“However, we have no choice. We just have to do it. Our meeting with Fam has given us some direction. From what transpired, we expect the new season to run from August to May,” Nyasulu said.

CRFA Vice General Secretary Antonio Manda and his SRFA counterpart Kingsley Simbeye said they would also use the same format.

Manda said the round robin format was the only way to stage the 2020 season under the prevailing Covid conditions.

“We all agreed that we must go by this format. I am sure we will meet the deadline because we expect to get started before April 14,” Manda said.

Soccer analyst Kelvin Moyo welcomed the development, saying the format will help the regional leagues to conclude their respective seasons in time.

However, Moyo said regional champions will find the going tough in the Super League as they will have no time to prepare adequately.

“This is business unusual. We just have to change our way of doing things. Covid has completely changed our lifestyle. So what the regional leagues plan to do is the only way to go, but my worry is that the teams to be promoted will have little time to prepare for the elite competition,” Moyo said.

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