The country’s flagship football league season starts this afternoon with defending champions Silver Strikers and Mighty Wanderers plunging into battle in the official opening fixture at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
Sulom general secretary Williams Banda confirmed that all is set and that by close of business on Thursday, 12 teams had finalised registration.
The three teams that were yet to finalise the process on Friday were Mighty Wanderers, Silver Strikers and Blue Eagles.
Meanwhile, the National Football Referees Committee (NFRC) yesterday said for the sake of the game, they have shelved their threat to boycott the league, albeit temporarily, following a meeting they had with Football Association of Malawi (FAM) on Thursday evening.
Said NFRC general secretary Chris Kalichelo: “The issue has not been resolved, yet. It is still pending, but for the good of the game, we have decided that we will officiate the games at the weekend ahead of the meeting Sulom has slated for Monday to determine the way forward.”
The previous Super League set high standards in terms of the quality of the game and the overall entertainment package delivered at the stadiums. Fresh talent emerged and exploded on the big stage.
But it was all spoiled by the ugly scenes during what was expected to be a thrilling finale between the Nomads and the Bankers at Balaka Stadium on December 28 2013 where a Wanderers fan, Lemiyasi Josita, lost his life.
But the two teams have a chance to start a new chapter this afternoon in the spirit of sportmanship and paying homage to the departed soul.
Incredibly, they start the marathon with their backs to the wall at minus nine points and six points for Silver and Nomads respectively, as punishment for causing the Balaka violence.
Silver coach Stein Chirwa said they are not looking at it as a setback, but rather a challenge that will fire them up in the quest for a fourth successive title.
“Preparations have gone on well for the opening fixture, playing against Wanderers is always tough, regardless of past results,” said Chirwa.
The Bankers will start the campaign without their wonderkid Chawanangwa Kaonga who has travelled with the Under-20 national soccer team to South Africa, but such is the depth in their squad that they are not losing their sleep over it and in rejuvenated Green Harawa, Lazarus Nyemera and Rodrick Gonani, they still have enough weapons.
“Considering his current form, we definitely would have loved to have Chawanangwa, but we have a steady replacement,” said the coach.
He also hinted that experienced gangly forward Russell Mwafulirwa and diminutive Tony Chitsulo, who have returned to Area 47, could be thrown into service.
But all is not rosy, though, at Lali Lubani Road and if their pre-season showing is anything to go by, then the Nomads have a lot of homework to do; otherwise, they look far from ready to fight for honours.
Coach Stuart Mbolembole, who has been give four games to deliver, starting with today’s match, yesterday admitted that the Nomads are not fully ready for the new season.
“We are not fully ready in the sense that we might not be able to feature players that we are targeting for the season such as Luka Milanzi, Sparrow Msowoya and Bongani Zulu who are not yet cleared,” said Mbolembole.
In other games today, Civo United host Azam Tigers at Civo Stadium while Chikwawa United start their new lease of life in the top-flight league against Mafco away at Chitowe.