The TNM Super League resumed on Friday with many clubs admitting that the long break due to Covid-19 preventive measures, has affected the rhythm of the top-flight.
The 2020/21 Super League went into recess barely two months into the season in January after Super League of Malawi (Sulom) announced the observance of the gazetted Covid-19 preventive laws that restrict public gatherings to 50 people.
This followed a clarification by the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 that the 50 people included players.
Then, nine rounds had been played and Silver Strikers led the 16-team log table on better goal difference after tying on 19 points with newly-promoted outfits Ekwendeni Hammers and Red Lions. Mafco and Civil Service (Civo) United followed on fourth and fifth places, respectively, on 16 points.
TN Stars (15 points), Ntopwa FC (14), defending champions Nyasa Big Bullets (12), Karonga United (11) and Blue Eagles (10) completed the top-10 list while Kamuzu Barracks (nine), Mighty Wanderers (seven), Moyale Barracks (six), Mighty Tigers (five), Mzuzu Warriors (five) and Chitipa United (four) took position 11 to 16 in that order.
Bullets assistant coach Peter Mponda, whose side did not register a loss in their last five league games following three wins and two draws, on Friday said it is their wish to continue from where they left as they host Mzuzu Warriors at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre this afternoon despite hardly having preparatory matches.
He said the long break did no good to them as it is likely to destabilise the rhythm they had when the season kicked off in December.
“It is a strange season and the excitement is no longer there,” he said.
He said, just like many other teams, they are going into football-restart fixtures without preparatory matches to gauge their strength.
“Moreover, most of our players did not train with us as they were with the national team,” said Mponda.
“To say the truth, it will be a great achievement to successfully defend the league title after the challenges we have so far faced due to the effects of Covid-19. It will surely be a season to forget.”
Silver assistant coach McDonald Mtetemela concurred with Mponda that the three-month football break took its toll on them, but that should not be an excuse for poor performance because the suffering affected all the teams in equal measure.
“It is not only us who are in this situation and that means we will are all at the same level as football restarts, but the truth is that with the long lay-off coupled with playing in empty stadia, the excitement is not the same” he said.
Ekwendeni coach Eston Kadenge Mwafulirwa, Civo team manager Gabriel Chirwa and Wanderers mentor Bob Mpinganjira said it will be a miracle to for their respective teams to maintain their rhythm.
As a newly-promoted team, Ekwendeni defied the odds to rise to the second place on the log table. They won six of their nine games, including their last three matches.
As for Wanderers, who have a single victory, four draws and two losses, they are determined to overcome some administrative hiccups after losing sponsorship from Japanese reconditioned vehicle dealers Be Forward Limited as they face Moyale Barracks at Mzuzu Stadium tomorrow.
Besides, Mpinganjira said the Nomads’ rhythm might also be disturbed by the absence of their key players who were with the Flames and lack of preparatory matches, has worsened their situation.
“Nevertheless, we are determined to adjust to the situation and overcome the mental and physical challenges we are going through. Tisaname mpira wa season ino taukakamiza,” he said.
Chirwa said Civo, who as we went to press on Friday were the only unbeaten side, said despite the challenges the break has brought, there are some positives they can pick from.
“For instance, the break has helped us to thoroughly work on our shortfalls such as conceding many goals and scoring less. We have improved a lot on this aspect and we are hopeful we will be much stronger. However, our results in our next few games will be the best judge,” he said.
Sulom president Tiya Somba-Banda said they are hopeful that the teams will quickly recover from their trauma to make the game of football exciting again. n