Cheers and jeers are this afternoon expected to echo through the country’s stadiums as the 2019 TNM Super League roars into action with 16 clubs ready to prove their mettle.
While each of the elite league outfits has the capability to take the ultimate glory, giants and rookies confessed yesterday that they have different missions in the campaign; winning the title and surviving the chop, respectively.
Defending champions Nyasa Big Bullets, runners-up Be Forward Wanderers and third-placed Silver Strikers believe they have
the necessary arsenal to battle for the crown while eyes of newly promoted outfits Ntopwa FC, Mlatho Mponela and Chitipa United are fixed on surviving relegation.
Nevertheless, as the 22nd edition gets underway with TN Stars hosting champions Bullets at Kasungu Stadium to mark the league’s relaunch under the theme Pokopoko, what is certain is that all the 16 teams are ready to rumble.
Bullets captain John Lanjesi said after snatching the league title from rivals Wanderers last season, they are determined to safeguard the trophy, which was their only silverware in 2018.
“Much as we would like to win more trophies this season, our priority is to defend the league title. We know all the other teams would love to snatch title from us, but we are mentally and physically ready to reclaim it,” he said.
The People’s Team has beefed up their squad with about five new faces in Gomezgani Chirwa (Civil Sporting Club), Precious Sambani (Namiwawa FC), Ben Manyozo (Dwangwa United) Luke Chima (Mighty Tigers) and Peter Banda (Griffin Young Stars).
They have also promoted from their Reserve side striker Hassan Kajoke and midfielder Chimwemwe Idana, defender Charles Petro and goalkeeper Elias Missi.
Wanderers team manager Stevie Madeira, whose side takes on Mzuni today at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre, said they have left no stone unturned to win the league .
“It was very disappointing not to defend the title last season, but we are geared to win it this time around,” he said.
Wanderers have lost the as Joseph Kamwendo, Yamikani Chester, Esau Kanyenda and Sambani, but Madeira believes they have found suitable replacements in the likes of Babatunde Adepoju, Francis Mkonda, Vincent Nyangulu (Masters Security FC), Peter Katsonga, Hankie Machira (Tigers) and Richard Rabson (Hangover FC). They have also promoted promising talent from their reserve side, including Chikondi Kamanga and rising star Fransisco Madinga.services of some key players such
“We are satisfied with how preparations have gone. We have assembled a good team and with motivation and good selection, we should win the league and at least two cups. Bring it on!” said Madeira.
Silver team manager Hellings Mwakasungula, whose side takes on hosts Karonga this afternoon, said their eyes are set on winning the title after settling for the third position for the third season in a row.
Although the Central Bankers have enhanced their squad with players such as Ernest Tambe (Wanderers), Shamama Shariff (Karonga) and Frank Sanudi (Mangochi), Mwakasungula said they would not dwell much on individual capabilities but team performance.
“This is a marathon and what matters most is to start positively. That is what we have planned to do,” he said.
On their part, Ntopwa coach Leo Mpulula, Mlatho Mponela assistant coach Dickson Bwanali and his Chitipa counterpart Robert Kaparasanga Mziza said their main target is to avoid relegation.
“Our vision is to remain in the league at the end of the season. We got a top-flight league slot by default after being given a chance by Bullets Reserve, whom we tied with on points but were superior on aggregate. Therefore, we need to prove that we deserved a Super League slot,” said Mpulula, whose team has beefed up the squad with Dave Banda and Richard Chimbamba from Bullets on loan.
Bwanali had this to say: “As newcomers, we need positive results in our first games to build our confidence to avoid relegation.”
While Mziza said: “We learnt a lot after being relegated two years ago and we now know what to expect. So, realistically, we have to aim at staying put,” he said.