After a month’s breather, the TNM Super League second round rolls into life this afternoon with two top teams—Moyale Barracks and Big Bullets—hoping to start on a good note in pursuit for the title.
Moyale finished the first round at the summit of the domestic flagship league after tying on 29 points with Bullets, but had the bragging rights courtesy of a better goal difference.
They also came close to winning the title last season, but finished second best to Silver Strikers and, unfortunately in this game, runners-up are hardly recognised.
The Mzuzu-based soldiers start their campaign against rookies Chikwawa United at Kalulu Stadium in Nchalo and their assistant coach Themba Ntontholo said their focus is to go on and win the Super League championship for the first time.
“Having been booted out of the Standard Bank, our sights are now firmly set on winning the league.
“Finishing at the top in the first round is no guarantee that we’ll go on to win the league, but it gives us determination that we can make it,” said Ntontholo, whose hopes rest on Gastin Simkonda and Deus Nkutu.
On the other hand, Bullets’ remarkable journey, so far this season, has been one of the domestic football’s charming stories, a gentle giant that has been in a coma, for close to a decade, finally waking up to take its place at the top of the football tree, playing the game with a swagger and attacking instincts that were a throwback to the glory days of Andrew ‘Aluki’ Chikhosi, late Chikondi Banda, Muzipasi Mwangonde, late John Banda, James Chimera Jnr and John Zilinde.
Bullets, who last won the league in 2005, are about to prove that great clubs can rebound from years of stagnation and take their place back at the top. They have only lost one league game so far this season to Epac FC and even that defeat was through a penalty that sparked controversy.
They kick-start their second-round campaign against Civo United at Civo Stadium in the capital and their coach Elia Kananji said they would want to continue from where they stopped last season.
“The mission is to win the league title and end years of waiting. We believe we have the capacity to do it.
“Our appeal to the fans is that they should continue to rally behind us, there will be times when we’ll tumble, but I am optimistic that we’ll achieve our goal,” said Kananji.
He also said they are expected to showcase their new signings Jaffalie Chande, Dave Ng’ambi and Frazer Menyani who have cost them close to K5 million.
The centre of focus though will be Ng’ambi who will be facing his former team in his debut for Bullets. Their other key men are the experienced trio of Fischer Kondowe, Jimmy Zakazaka and James Chilapondwa who were part of the squad that last won the league in 2005.
And despite losing two key players—Ng’ambi and Patrick Gunde—Civo general secretary Rashid Mtelela played down suggestions that his side will start the second round with their backs to the wall.
“Of course, they were among our key players, but we moulded them into what they are today and we are not losing sleep over it,” said Mtelela, whose side starts the second round on sixth position with 20 points.
In the other match slated for this afternoon, it will be a battle of rookies when Airborne Rangers host Karonga United at Chitowe in Dwangwa.
Karonga’s team manager Abraham Mwakhwawa said having roped in a new coach Abbas Makawa, formerly of Epac, they are confident of surviving relegation.
“The first round was to us a learning curve as it was the first time we were playing in the Super League. We have tried to rectify the shortfalls that were noted and we are set,” said Mwakhwawa.
Meanwhile, Malawi’s flagship super league sponsors TNM has expressed satisfaction with the level of competition in the first round.
The company’s public relations and sponsorship manager Limbani Nsapato said TNM is satisfied with level of competition seen in the first round of the league.
“The two top teams Moyale and Big Bullets are tied on log table with 29 points each in the first round and this demonstrates that they have been stiffer competition in the first round and we are expecting the same in the second round,” said Nsapato.
The launch of the second round of the season in Lilongwe will have music performance by Skeffa Chimoto from 10am and the opening match between Big Bullets and Civo United at Civo Stadium.