Super League of Malawi (Sulom) says it will not change Super League fixtures to accommodate clubs that have contributed more than three players to the Flames squad that leaves for South Africa today.
Flames coach Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) yesterday named his squad for the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Cup.
Be Forward Wanderers have contributed Lucky Malata, Stanley Sanudi, Francis Mulimbika, Yamikani Chester and Jabulani Linje while Silver Strikers have Brighton Munthali, Binwell Katinji, Chisomo Mpachika and Levison Maganizo.
Other players in the squad are Ernest Kakhobwe, Dalitso Sailesi and John Lanjesi (Nyasa Big Bullets), Khuda Muyawa (Moyale Barracks), Innocent Bokosi and Chikoti Chirwa (Red Lions), Micium Mhone (Blue Eagles), Peter Cholopi (Azam Tigers), Simeon Singa, Ian Chinyama and Denis Chembezi (PremierBet Wizards).
A rule agreed between Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and Sulom states that a team that has contributed more than three players should be exempted from fixtures.
Silver, who have contributed four players, have a fixture against Red Lions on Saturday while Wanderers face Blue Eagles on Sunday. Ironically, they are also teams that have played the least number of games since they were busy with Airtel Top 8 fixtures.
Sulom general secretary Williams Banda said the fixtures will not be changed, arguing that they reached an agreement with FAM to ensure that not more than three players are picked from a club i to avoid disturbing the already crammed calendar.
He said: “Remember, we were reluctant to release the fixtures at first because we did not want to make such unnecessary changes. Clubs complained and FAM said we must release all the fixtures which we did. When releasing the fixtures, FAM said we must ensure that they will not be changed so that the first round ends on August 20.”
But when it was put to him that rules agreed with FAM state that clubs must be exempted if they contribute more than three players, Banda said the rule only applies to Fifa sanctioned competitions.
“That rule clearly states that the clubs must be exempted when the matches are on Fifa calendar and Cosafa Cup is not. That is why foreign based players have been recalled by their clubs. It’s the same with Super League,” he said.
“As of now, we are not even aware which players were called into camp or the final squad travelling to South Africa. Clubs have prepared for the weekend fixtures and we have already paid referees for the matches. Changing fixtures is done at least 48 hours before the match. Right now, that is not possible,” he said.
Flames coach RVG said he has nothing to do with the agreement between FAM and Sulom.
He said: “I pick the best players for the national team. I do not care whether I pick eight players from one team; what I am after is the best players for the national team. The issue of the players I have picked affecting the Super League fixture is not my concern. That is not the problem of the technical panel.”
FAM vice-president James Mwenda said they will meet Sulom and clubs over the issue.
“We are aware of the rule that a team that has contributed more than three players must be exempted from fixtures. We are also aware that exempting some club from matches will have an effect on the calendar.
“But we are also mindful that the coach must pick the best players for the national team. Nowhere in the world is a coach restricted from picking players just because you want the calendar not to be disturbed.
“We are also aware that clubs complain when some play more games while others are just idle. All these factors are there for football development. We will meet Sulom and the clubs immediately to reach a compromise so that all parties are satisfied.”
However, the affected clubs yesterday said it’s either their games should be postponed or their players should not makle the trip.
Malawi leaves for South Africa today and they play Tanzania in the opening match of the tournament. n