Red Lions coach Collins Nkuna has called on the Super League of Malawi (Sulom) to scrap off a rule which mandates the exemption from games of a club that has contributed four players or more to the national team.
Nkuna said this when his charges wound up the 2012/13 TNM Super League season with a 3-0 loss to Big Bullets at the Kamuzu Stadium last Sunday. Nkuna claimed irregular fixtures contributed to his team’s progress. Lions finished fifth.
“Sulom must have fixed venues for matches to enable us to seek logistics from our superiors. Changing venues and fixtures affects our planning. Sulom and FAM also have to agree on one calendar. Teams are at liberty to register 30 players, why should they be exempted from games for having contributed four players?” querried Nkuna.
But Big Bullets general secretary Higger Mkandawire wants the rule to be upheld, arguing this is a standard practice in top leagues “as a coach’s winning strategy revolves around particular players”.
Just like Mkandawire, Silver Strikers chairperson Dr Mafuta Mwale on Tuesday said alligning the football calendar was the solution to fixtures’ collision as “depending on the stature of a team, it can lose a game due to the absence of even one key player”.
But Civo United general secretary Rashid Ntelela on Tuesday bought Nkuna’s argument, noting that sparing clubs from games has contributed to a mess of fixtures.
“If a team is able to contribute many players to the national team, it shows it has depth. The remaining squad can equally compete,” Ntelela argued.
Sulom general secretary Williams Banda said they would do a postmortem of the season and “if that is the consesus among teams, then we have no problem.”
Fifa regulations say international matches on fixed dates take priority over league matches. But clubs are not obliged to release players to a national team for international friendly matches outside the Fifa calendar.
In view of the rule, Mighty Wanderers general secretary David Kanyenda recently threatened FAM with legal action after the Flames travelled with three Nomads players on Flames duty in South Africa for a friendly match outside the calendar.
“A club is not obliged to release a player who has been called up if the friendly match in question is to be held on a date outside the coordinated international match calendar,” reads Article 36 of Fifa regulations on www.fifa.com
But the world football governing body adds that “a player shall only be released to the national association if his club agrees to his release.”