While the standards of the countryâ€™s top flight football league continue to perk up, local teamsâ€™ failure to take part in international competitions is threatening its credibility.
According to the latest classification of national football leagues, the Super League is not among the 122 ranked leagues released by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFHHS) on Tuesday. Last year, the Super League was ranked 111.
The IFHHS stated that the ranking was not based on the financial power of the leagues, but on the performance of a countryâ€™s teams in international competitions and friendlies. The clubsâ€™ performances were assessed from January 1 to July 10 2012.
The Nigerian Premier League has been ranked as the strongest African league for 2012 and 24th in the world followed by Tunisia, Ghana and Morocco respectively.
The Spanish La Liga is ranked the worldâ€™s best league followed by Argentina, Brazil and England in that order.
Sulom, FAM and clubs have since admitted that local teams failure to take part in international competitions, in particular the CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup, has contributed to the plunge.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu and Super League of Malawi (Sulom) general secretary Williams Banda yesterday said as long as local teams fail to take part in international competitions, the local top-flight league will continue to be left out of the rankings.
Said Nyamilandu: “It is a pity that our national league is not ranked internationally and it all boils down to our failure to participate in continental club competitions which are used as the benchmark for the rankings.”
The FAM president suggested the need to explore ways of ensuring that Super League champions and winners of national cups should be able to take part in continental tournaments.
“The biggest challenge remains funding because Super League teams struggle even to meet their budgets on the local scene and it is therefore a tall order for them to raise funds to enable them to take part in international tournaments.
“I remember there was a resolution that government should consider subsidising the national championsâ€™ participation in the CAF Champions League and it is an avenue that can be explored,” said Nyamilandu.
On his part, the Sulom GS also noted that funding is the biggest obstacle for local teams wishing to take part in international competitions.
“I remember a couple of years ago, government gave an assurance that it would seriously consider subsidising the participation of national champions in a national competition, but there has been no progress.
“So, perhaps there is need to follow up on the issue; otherwise, with their meagre resources, teams cannot manage to take part in international competitions as it is very costly,” said Banda.
Mighty Wanderers chairperson George Chamangwana and football marketing consultant Felix Sapao said apart from government, there is need for Sulom and FAM to approach other potential sponsors towards local teamsâ€™ participation.
Said Chamangwana: “My view is that apart from the club itself, FAM, league sponsors, government and the corporate world can bankroll the participation in either the Champions League or Confederations Cup because the club will be representing the country.
Sapao said in countries such as Zimbabwe, government and sponsors of the league contribute towards teamsâ€™ participation in CAF tournaments.
The South African PSL in which a number of Malawian internationals ply their trade, is ranked eighth on the continent and 51st in the world.
Zimbabwe and Zambiaâ€™s national leagues are ranked 64th and 87th in the world respectively.
â€”IFHHS is recognised by world football governing body Fifa.
â€”The last time the Super League was ranked was last year when it was on position 111.
â€”The last time a local club participated in a CAF tournament was in 2004 when Big Bullets took part in the CAF Champions League and qualified for the quarter-finals.
â€”Cosafa bloc does not have club competitions.