Touchline View w/Joe Chibewa
THE guessing as to who will be the 2011/12 TNM Super League champions comes to a conclusive end this Saturday as eight teams clash in what will definitely be the finale to Malawis top-flight soccer league season.
Blantyre United, who at one time looked like they were strong contenders for the championship title, slipped out of contention last Saturday when they fell 2-0 to the might of Mighty Wanderers who returned to Kamuzu Stadium after the end of their ban.
Gerald Phiri Jnr. and Anthony Banda scored a goal each to ensure the Nomads are still there with a remote chance to scoop the championship.
Lying on third position with 45 points from 27 games, Mighty Wanderers believe they can still win the championship. They have a daunting task ahead in their last game against Moyale Barracks in Mzuzu.
Moyale, who are lying on 9th position, will certainly not be in any compromising mood at home after suffering humiliating defeats at the weekend away to Silver Strikers (4-1) and Epac FC (1-0) in the capital Lilongwe.
Coach Franco Ndawa said their victory at Kamuzu Stadium had restored their hopes of winning the Super League title.
We are still in contention and well just make sure that we win the last game and hope the others lose. Anything can happen, Ndawa said in a post-match interview with The Daily Times.
But the soldiers are difficult to beat at home and will certainly not want to disappoint their vocal supporters and fans at Mzuzu Stadium this Saturday. The Nomads should not expect a stroll in the park when they travel to Mzuzu for their final encounter.
Second-placed Silver Strikers enhanced their chances of laying their hands on the Super League cup when they mercilessly walloped Moyale at their own backyard Silver Stadium.
Moyale made a false start when Ernest Zimba put them ahead on the 26th minute, but goal only jolted Silver into action and saw Frank Banda and Asedi Ayami pumping in a brace each to complete the rout.
Ayami, who is the third Super League top goal-scorer, has now taken his tally to 15 goals, just one behind Moyales Gastin Simkonda and three short of top scorer Ishmael Thindwa, who is currently on trials with a top South African club.
Elsewhere in Zomba, fourth-placed Civo also made sure they were still in the race when they on Saturday inflicted misery to already relegated Cobbe Barracks of Zomba by showing them the exit door with 4 goals to 2. Lazarus Chirwa and Nelson Kangunje scored two goals apiece for Civo, while Isaac Nankapa and Moses Nankumba found the back of the net for Cobbe.
But their title bid took a hard knock on Sunday when they fell 2-1 to Zomba United with goals coming via Manasseh Chiyesa and Lackson Shaba while Civo had to thank Alick Kaumbes own goal for their face saver.
At 44 points from 27 games, Civo also stand the remotest of chances to cart home the championship if they beat 12th placed Big Bullets this Saturday at Civo Stadium to bring their goal tally at 47 points. But even then, current leaders and defending champions Escom United stand the best chance of retaining the title.
Escom have so far amassed 47 points and if they win their last game against equally determined Silver Strikers this Saturday at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre, they will have a maximum of 50 points, enough to declare themselves champions once again. But if Escom stumble at the last hurdle, and hoping that their hottest pursuers lose, they will still stand a chance at 47 points because they have a better goal aggregate than Civo.
Nevertheless, not all is well in Escom camp with players reportedly boycotting training the whole of last week.
The Nation reports that the players stayed away from training due to unpaid game bonuses and allowances for the 2010/2011 season in a desperate bid to force the executive to settle the arrears ahead of their last and decisive league game against Silver Strikers.
Escom chairman Fanuel Nkhono confirmed the development, describing the players move as childish especially with such a crucial game ahead which would ultimately decide who grabs the championship.
In Balaka, Blantyre United will wind up their league matches with a fixture against Azam Tigersa match that will have little or no bearing on the league championship as both teams have no chance to lay claim to the title.
So the matches to watch are those to be played at Mzuzu Stadium, Civo Stadium and Kamuzu Stadium, for these are the matches that will determine who is who in 2011/12 TNM Super League season.
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment