Southern Region Football Association (SRFA) yesterday conducted a draw to mark the league’s return to its old format due to delays in restarting football.
The league, which is now called Rab’s Processors League, was the first ever in the country.
It was introduced by Nyasaland African Football Association (Nafa) in 1938 as Shire Highlands African Football League (Shafl).
Another league, Royle League, was organised by Nyasaland Football Association (NFA)in 1948, but it catered for expatriates.
After independence in 1964 NFA and NAFA merged to form Malawi Football Association (MFA) which, in 1966 changed to Football Association of Malawi (FAM), one league called Southern League was formed.
Just like in those days when the league was played in groups, it has reverted to the old format due to Covid-19.
A draw conducted yesterday at Mpira Village in Chiwembe, Blantyre has pooled the 19 teams into four groups.
Group 1 has Nyasa Big Bullets Reserve, Neno Giants, Polytechnic, Wizards FC and Bangwe All Stars
Sable Farming, Zomba Airbase, Mangochi United, Wanderers Reserve and Changalume Barracks are in group 2.
Blantyre City, Prison United, Immigration, MaxSteffords and The Boyz are in group 3 while MDF Marine, Chinamwali Stars, Nyasa United, Fomo FC and White Eagles are in group 4.
Top two teams from each group will qualify for the knockout stage to identify champions who will be promoted to the TNM Super League.
Despite the change of format, SRFA chairperson Raphael Humba said they expect tough competition among teams.
He said: “We expect a very competitive season. Every team will be aiming to finish in top two to qualify for the quarter-finals.
“When they reach the quarter-finals, every team will be aiming for the semi-finals and finals to eventually become the champions.”
Humba thanked FAM for accepting the change in format.
“Let me also thank the sponsor for accepting the proposal to change the format.
“Even afterchanging the format they have still maintained the sponsorship at K14 million despite the number of games being reduced.”
Rab’s Processors communications manager Andrew Lulker said they are comfortable with the new format.
He said: “Everybody has adjusted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s our commitment to continue developing football, the clubs and the players.
“That’s why we have maintained the sponsorship at K14 million even though they will play less games. We are very excited that the league will resume after a longtimewithout football. We are ready to sponsor the league.”
Blantyre City Football Club team manager Willard Banda welcomed the draw.
“We are quite impressed, taking into account that we have been drawn against Blantyre-based teams and we will only play outside Blantyre against Prison United in Zomba. But it’s quite a tough group.”