The 32nd edition of the flagship TNM Super League kicks off this Saturday with five matches lined up on the opening day while four others will follow on Sunday.
Reigning champions Nyasa Big Bullets set the ball rolling when they engage TN Stars away in Kasungu in the launch game while last season’s runners-up Be Forward Wanderers host Mzuni at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
Bullets coach Callisto Pasuwa said they are relishing a good start to their title defence campaign. “The league is a marathon, a good start gives you a big boost. Otherwise, we are ready for the new season although we didn’t have much time with the new players to see how they will gel with their colleagues,” he said.
Bullets have about nine new players, including four whom they promoted from their reserve side.
The new players include defenders Precious Sambani and Gomezgani Chirwa, midfielder Ben Manyozo and strikers Peter Banda and Luke Chima while those from the reserve team are goalkeeper Elias Missi, defender Charles Petro, midfielder Chimwemwe Idana and forward Hassan Kajoke.
On his part, TN Stars coach Meke Mwase, who is doubling as national team interim coach, said his charges are set for the showdown.
“Last season was about avoiding relegation and getting the feel of the top-flight league, but now we will be out to compete for honours.
“We are starting the campaign against the champions, but playing at home gives us confidence and we are ready,” he said.
In Blantyre, until recently, Mzuni FC had always been Nomads’ bogey team, but the Mzuzu-based side seems to have lost its rhythm of late.
The Nomads, buoyed by home ground advantage and new signings—Francis Mkonda, Babatunde Adepoju, Vincent Nyangulu from Masters Securirity, Peter Katsonga and Hanke Machira from Mighty Tigers, Richard Rabson from Hangover FC as well as Fransisco Madinga and Chikondi Kamanga from their reserve side, should start on full throttle.
Nomads’ ever upbeat team manager Stevie Madeira based on their results in pre-season games that saw them winning six, drawing twice and losing once, the Nomads should achieve their goals.
“We are satisfied with how preparations have gone. We have assembled a good team and with motivation and good selection, we should win the league and at least two cups. Bring it on!” said Madeira .
Silver Strikers, who finished third last season, are in the North where they face Karonga United and Chitipa United on Saturday and Sunday respectively at Karonga Stadium.
The Central Bankers have bolstered their already star-studded squad with the likes of Ernest Tambe, Shamama Shariff and Frank Sanudi.
Their team manager Hellings Mwakasungula said: “This is a marathon and what matters most is to start positively. That is what we have planned to do,” he said.
Newcomers Ntopwa FC and Mlatho Mponela open their accounts against Mzuni and Civil Sporting Club respectively, tomorrow.
Ntopwa team manager Isaac Jomo Osman and Mlatho head coach Eddie Ng’onamo said they are looking forward to a good start.
Said Osman: “We are not in the Super league just to participate, but to compete and we will fight for all the three points on offer in our opening game to send a clear message to other teams about our intent.”