After a lengthy wait spanning eight months, the delayed 2020 season—which will spill over to next year—will kick off on November 14 with the Ecobank sponsored Charity Shield.
This was resolved during a Football Association of Malawi (FAM) executive committee meeting held in Chintheche, Nkhata Bay on Saturday.
A press statement issued by FAM yesterday partly reads: “The season, which will run up to July, will start with the Charity Shield on November 14 to 15 and the [TNM] Super League will kick off a week later. The full calendar will be released in due course.”
This follows the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19’s decision to set October 17 as the training resumption date for all sports disciplines.
Super League of Malawi (Sulom) general secretary Williams Banda welcomed the resolution, saying: “It is good to start with the Charity Shield as it will set the benchmarks. We will also inform other key stakeholders accordingly.”
However, while applauding FAM for the move, Be Forward Wanderers captain Alfred Manyozo Jnr, his Civil Service (Civo) United and Nyasa Big Bullets counterparts Raphael Phiri and John Lanjesi, respectively, feel players should have been given a bit of more time to prepare after a lengthy break.
Said Manyozo: “It’s the good news that we have been eagerly looking forward to because we missed the game a lot and we depend on football for a living.
“However, we have been out of action for far too long and three to four weeks of preparations will be hardly enough.
“As players, we needed ample time to gain match fitness; otherwise we’ll be risking injuries. Nevertheless, there is little we can do about it. Sometimes our football is treated like a social activity, so we just have to accept it.”
On his part, Phiri said: “It’s good that now we have an exact date for the season kick-off, but the only concern could be the period for preparations.
“As players, we last played competitive football in December last year and that means by the time we resume training later this month, we will have been out of action for about 10 months.
“So, in essence, we needed at least six to eight weeks of preparations, but since a decision has already been made, we just have to accept.”
Lanjesi said clubs should anticipate lots of injuries because of the short period for preparations.
Recently, CAF and Fifa physical fitness trainer Ephraim Mzengo said players would need a minimum of between six to eight weeks of strenuous training to gain match fitness.
Wanderers general secretary Victor Maunde said as a club, the period given should be enough to work on logistics and start preparations.
On his part, Silver Strikers chief executive officer Thoko Chimbali said: “Most certainly we will be ready by then because our players have been working hard during the break.”
Football, along with all other sporting activities, was suspended on march 20—just a day before the scheduled kick-off date for the 2020 season—as a preventive measure against the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.