Some Airtel Top 8 semi-finalists have protested against a long-standing Football Association of Malawi (FAM) tradition of releasing camping national team players on Thursdays for their clubs’ weekend matches.
The clubs have asked FAM to consider releasing the players, especially those whose teams are playing crucial games on Saturdays— as early as on Wednesdays.
Reacting to FAM’s decision to release the players around lunch time yesterday, the clubs said having the players released much earlier would give them enough time to train with them.
Moyale Barracks coach Charles Kamanga, whose team faces Be Forward Wanderers on Saturday, said it would be fair if FAM considered releasing the players early, especially for crucial cup games.
“We don’t have many players in the national team camp, but it would be good if FAM considered releasing players for games like semifinals and finals as early as possible. This would give clubs enough time to work with the players,” he said.
Moyale’s talismanic striker Khuda Muyaba is among the players Flames coach Ronny Van Geneugden called into camp this week ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Comoros.
Silver coach Lovemore Fazili backed Kamanga’s appeal, saying most of the players in camp are the ones clubs build their teams around.
“This is why it is always crucial to have enough time to work with such before crucial matches like the upcoming Airtel Top 8,” he said.
Silver play Kamuzu Barracks on Sunday in the second semifinal meaning Fazili, unlike Wanderers and Moyale, will have two days to train with the players released from national team camping.
But Fazili said despite having such an advantage, he pitied with Wanderers and Moyale.
“Without undermining the importance of the national team, there is need for some change,” he said.
Kamuzu Barracks coach Billy Phambala also offered his support, but disclosed that he will drop the players that are with the national team if, after assessment, if they do not meet his expectations.
“The league is just starting and I would have loved to have all the players as early as Thursday so that we work on coordination. It was important, therefore, for FAM to release the players earlier. My stand is that I will not hesitate to drop those players in camp if they don’t meet my expectations,” he said.
Wanderers’ team manager Steve Madeira said they have no queries over FAM’s decision to release the players on Thursday because they are in Blantyre where national team camp is taking place.
“The players from the other clubs will take time for them to reunite with their teams since they will spend some time travelling. The best way was to tell FAM in advance to release the players earlier,” he said.
FAM competitions manager Gomezgani Zakazaka advised clubs that whenever they feel they have crucial games they should write the association.
He said: “It is possible to excuse players whose clubs feel that they have big games. But they should communicate formally immediately after we have asked them to release their players to us for camping.”
The Airtel Top 8 semi-finalists have contributed 15 of the 22 players th
at were called into camp. n