It is now some two weeks since the first stanza of an all-action TNM Super League ended, leaving tongues wagging. SportsXtra, with the help of some football experts, picks arguably the stand-out performers of this round. The second round is expected to start next week.
Brighton Ngwenyama (Red Lions): The Lions boasted the least number of defeats, two, and goals conceded 12. Defenders get the credit, even more this young â€˜custodian. It is a tough choice, but his record is speaking louder.
Foster Namwela (Mighty Wanderers): He is arguably the best man in the defending business locally. It should be just a matter of time before he gets his wish to play across the borders. Namwela fits the very idea of a bouncer at the backâ€”â€”tall, strong and calm. And his masterly of the basics of defending is sharp. His added advantage is his discipline on and off the pitch. No wonder, he is now a Flames regular. Namwela can take his game to the next level if he scores as was the case when he broke into the main team in 2006.
George Nyirenda (Big Bullets): He is Malawiâ€™s answer to David Luis; a classy defender with the knack for overlapping and playing from the back. He is never afraid to gamble and add numbers going forward. Every generation, Big Bullets will always have an intelligent defender. It seems, he is the one for this generation. He, at times, needs to stick to the basics instead of being fancy. Only if he had the physique, this dreadlocked boy could make it big abroad.
John Lanjesi (Civo United): It is a close call between Blue Eaglesâ€™ Steve Chagoma and this Civo United defender. In terms of experience and power, Lanjesi is inches ahead. Only if he could keep free from injuries.
Francis Mulimbika (Mighty Wanderers): The Arthur Boka of Malawi remains underrated but he is a gem. He is strong going forward and on the tackle. His positional discipline can get better though. The longer it takes to introduce him in the national team set up, the more this talent will go down the drain. An outstanding graduate from the Under-17 class of 2009.
Joseph Kamwendo (Mighty Wanderers): In his second return to Mighty Wanderers, the midfielder has galvanised the teamâ€™s midfield weighing in his splendid displays with some crucial goals. It is not very often in the league that midfielders score, five goals in the first around as Kamwendo has done. His experience and influence is all too easy to see. Still too good for the domestic league. Sometimes, Wanderersâ€™ over dependence on this star man can be a disadvantage.
Patrick Gunde (Civo United): Does anyone know first-time passing better locally? I doubt. He is a joy to watch for those with above average football insight. That he remains underrated is all due to the fact that he hardly holds on to the ball in a league where the glory goes to those with individualism. He needs to get serious with his career off the field and also be consistent.
John Banda (Blue Eagles): There are not as many good right wingers in the domestic league. This police officer, who missed the last few games due to an injury picked in August, earns his place in this squad. The less that is said about his contribution to the Flames, the better. Top drawer.
Douglas Chirambo (Big Bullets): Flames coach Kinnah Phiri, as an expert in coaching, knows why this Bullets man cannot even earn a place on the national teamâ€™s substitutesâ€™ bench. With the national team short of options on the left avenue, he is supposed to be a regular. He can play both legs. On the left avenue, he is the best man for the job. Add this to his work rate, big match temperament and versatility, then you have a complete footballer. He needs to remain calm in tempting situations on the pitch, otherwise he is a customer to some costly red and yellow cards. His challenges are more off the field.
Rodrick Gonani (Silver Strikers): When it comes to scoring this season, he is the next big thing after Chinthenga. If Gonani scores, Silver usually wins. And big. He is a steady supplier of goals for Silver and one of the few forwards who can take on defenders. His small frame, at times, undermines his prospects of making it in the Flames. It can, though, be argued that he has never been given a worthwhile chance in the Flames. Is he more of a club star?.
Vincent Chinthenga (Bvumbwe Research): The 25 goals he netted to win the Southern Region Football Leagueâ€™s Golden Boot Award have proved that they were no mere flukes. His 10 goals in 14 Super League games is an impressive return for the striker. The Wanderersâ€™ rejectâ€™s strength is his rare ability to shoot first time, create space for himself and others. He seizes every opportunity to shoot, no wonder he has been prolific. But like Chikondi Mpulula before him, if he does not transfer his rich vein of form to the second round, he risks being the latest version of a one-season wonder. He also needs to work on his physique.
Substitutes: Owen Chaima (Big Bullets), Thoko Stambuli, Dalitso Sailesi (both Blantyre United), Boniface Kaulesi (Red Lions), Gabadinho Mhango, Chimango Kaira (both Big Bullets), Peter Pindani (Silver Strikers).