The harmonisation of football calendar remains a pipe dream as regional leagues have failed to complete their first-round fixtures as scheduled due to, among other reasons, shortage of venues and administrative hitches, Nation on Sunday has learnt.
This follows news that Nsejjere Southern Region Football Association (SRFA) League, Chipiku Central Region Football Association (CRFA) League and Simama Northern Region Football Association (NRFA) League are yet to finish their first-round games while the TNM Super League—to which regional leagues champions are promoted—finished its first-round over a month ago.
According to analysts, such struggles will also be inevitable next season due to, among other things, scarcity of match venues, administrative hitches and the pressure to cope with high number of contesting teams.
“I must admit that we might not even complete the first-round this month, but probably in the second week of September. From the look of things, we will complete our season in 2016,” said SRFA vice-general secretary Kingsley Simbeye.
“We have 21 teams in Division One and 15 in Premier Division. As we enter 17th week, each team remains with at least three games to wind up the first-round fixtures, but we do not have enough venues to complete the fixtures within schedule.”
CRFA fixtures secretary Antonio Manda said they have failed to be in line with the calendar because they have which require more time for all the fixtures to be fulfilled.
“But we have tried our best as we will conclude the first-round of Premier Division matches this weekend and other divisions on August 29,” said Manda.
NRFA treasurer, Chauka Mwasinga, said the recent misunderstandings between NFRA and the clubs over the association’s alleged bias in the promotion of Mzuni FC into the Super League ate away their precious time to abide by the calendar.
Despite that, he said they will wrap up the first-round on August 29 and they hope to wind up the season by the end of November.
As per the 2015 football calendar drawn by the Football Association of Malawi (FAM), all the leagues had to start in April and wind up fixtures by December 27 to give promoted teams ample time to prepare for the Super League.
Previously, regional leagues finished their fixtures late and as a result, newly promoted sides joined the elite league with fatigue and ended up being relegated.
But FAM competitions manager Gomezgani Zakazaka said they hope that everything will be normal in the next season.
However, football analyst Charles Nyirenda feels the process of harmonising the calendar could have been given ample time to materialise because there are still some issues that need to be sorted.
“The harmonisation of the soccer calendar is the best way to go in helping to improve football standards in the country, but, FAM, Sulom and the regional leagues should have ensured that all sticky issues such as problems with match venues were cleared,” said Nyirenda.
He added: “It is also important to make sure that our calendar is at par with international leagues such as the South Africa Premier Soccer League (PSL).
“It is not good for our players to go for trials in foreign countries while our Super League is still in progress as was the case when Muhammed Sulumba and Micium Mhone went for trials at Jomo Cosmos. Let us avoid such inconveniences.” n