With three days before they face Epac FC in Standard Bank Knockout Cup fixture, some Big Bullets players have complained of burnout, claiming they have played in over 10 consecutive games.
Bullets midfield workhorse James Chilapondwa is among the players who complained about the burnout on Tuesday when asked on his focus for Sundayâ€™s second leg of the quarter-final.
â€œThe soccer authorities should consider us. Our bodies cannot withstand the strain of playing two games every weekend in seven consecutive weeks. I believe I am speaking on behalf of most players,â€ said Chilapondwa.
Bullets beat Epac 1-0 in the first leg on Saturday before switching to the TNM Super League clash against Kamuzu Barracks, which they drew 1-1. Bullets had also played back to back the previous week in the Super League alone.
Nation Online also established that until their mid season break two weeks ago, Bvumbwe Research had played for 11 consecutive months having not rested at the end of last season.
â€œThere are just too many fixtures. Save for the week we faced Moyale Barracks in the Presidential Cup final, I do not remember us not playing. Even a weekâ€™s break can enable our bodies to recover,â€ Chilapondwa suggested.
Blantyre United midfielder Jimmy Chikulekule, whose side is out of the Standard Bank Cup and also did not last long in the Presidential Cup, said he had no issues with the crammed fixtures.
Mighty Wanderers star midfielder Joseph Kamwendo, while sharing Chilapondwaâ€™s concerns, said the issue of jammed fixtures is a reality Malawian players have to live with.
â€œWe have to bear in mind that in between domestic league games, there are also national team engagements. There is nothing really we can do. After all, this is our job. We earn a living from football. We just have to do our job,â€ said Kamwendo.
Football Association of Malawi chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda assured the players that next seasonâ€™s fixtures would be harmonised as recommended by Fifa envoy Ashford Mamelodi in 2009. Mamelodi also suggested trimming of Super League clubs to 12 from 15.
â€œFor the first time in many years, this season we had three sponsored competitions and every sponsor was targeting a particular month for their tournament. We agree this is against Fifa recommendations,â€ Nyirenda said.
On Monday, Super League of Malawi (Sulom) general secretary Williams Banda also painted a positive picture on the crammed fixture, saying they are now moving towards synchronising the games having now received Carlsberg Cup calendar.
Physician Dr. Mark Tembo of Domasi College of Education, said players burnout depends on the level of physical activity involved, training regime and age, among other variables.
â€œSometimes youthful playersâ€™ bodies can absorb the pressure of playing too many games. The playersâ€™ complaints are legitimate and it raises questions as to whether our coaches pay attention to the physical aspects of our players,â€ said the chief PE lecturer.
A few months ago, football scout Felix Ngamanya-Sapao said it would be difficult for him to consider local players for trials in foreign land as the footballers cannot last the distance due to burnout. Elsewhere, including in Zambia and Zimbabwe, teams play once every weekend.