The Airtel Top 8 season five kicks off on Saturday with the ‘Zamadolo’ theme which has been maintained from last season.
Airtel Malawi Managing Director Charles Kamoto said on Thursday afternoon at a press conference that the ‘Zamadolo’ theme has been maintained because it fits well with the caliber of the competition which only features top eight teams.
“This season, we are not changing the theme because the Madola is very massive and fits well with the type of competition which is only participated by top eight teams. Last season, we experienced exciting football where we saw 28 goals scored, beating the previous season’ 12 goals in the same eleven matches so it really lived up to its billing and we expect the same this year.
“We have seen standard of play going up, we asked for goals, and we saw goals coming, we saw players identified in our cup participating for the Flames at Afcon this year and the team did exceptionally well so we are happy that our competition is adding value to the beautiful game, and we are optimistic that this will continue,” he said.
FAM Vice president Jabbar Alide, who is also FAM Competitions Committee chairperson said they are expecting this year’s competition to surpass what was achieved last year more especially that the matches will be live streamed throughout the world on FIFA+.
“Our expectations this year are very high. Last year, Zamadolo edition brought us the best top 8 ever. This year, we look to raise the bar further in terms of broadcasting, fan engagement and we think we will exceed what we achieved last year,” he said.
“It is a very big opportunity for us to livestream our matches on FIFA+ Portal to the world where we will expose the matches all over for the people who are interested in scouting, and they will also be able to see how passionate our fans are. For Airtel, we are exposing the brand to the world and for FAM, how organized we are as an association. This is beneficial across the board.
“We always aim to improve on how we do things, and we are lucky we have a sponsor who is keen to see us improve. We will continue to strive for more success, and we always look for a room to improve to make the tournament bigger and better,” said Alide.
On his part, FAM President paid special tribute to the fans for their cooperation throughout the last edition and urged them to maintain peace to safeguard the sponsorship.
“The fans have been amazing, the behavior exceptional, we haven’t had cases of hooliganism and we believe this behavior will continue. We want to end year with a bang and the best we can do is to safeguard the sponsors. We will have winners and losers, let’s accept results and promote fair play.”
Nyamilandu added that the football governing body is grateful to Airtel for the continued support.
“We are also very grateful as a football fraternity because it means a lot to us for being considered. We are happy that the sponsorship is yielding the desired results and it’s adding value to football in terms of entertaining our supporters, nurturing young talent and also helping Airtel brand on and off the field of play so we are very grateful to our sponsors, and we are looking forward to an exciting edition,” he said.
Apart from unveiling the theme, Airtel Malawi also presented top end Macron kits to the eight participating teams.
A total of 11 Matches will be played through the competition and the quarterfinals will be played on a home and away basis where goal aggregate and away goal rules shall apply while the semifinals and final matches will be played in a single fixture.
The opening match will see defending champions Nyasa Big Bullets host Karonga United in the Quarterfinal First leg at the Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday.
On Sunday, Mighty Mukuru Wanderers will host Mafco at the same venue. Next week Silver will play Kamuzu Barracks at Chitowe while Blue Eagles will host Dedza Dynamos at Nankhaka..
The teams will meet in the return leg in two-weeks’ time.
The winner of the competition will receive K17 million.