Super League debutants Sable FC announced on Monday this week that they have suspended their head coach, Joseph Malizani following a run of poor form that has seen the Chiradzulu side register just a single win in eight league games.
After eight games, the Sables are stuck at the bottom of the league with just five points after losing five times and drawing two times.
Their only win was a surprise 2-0 home victory over Red Lions and they have not won any away game since the start of the season. They have scored just five goals in their opening eight games and have conceded 13 so far. They have just scored one goal away from home in their 3-1 defeat to Mighty Wanderers at the Kamuzu Stadium.
Sable FC poached coach Joseph Malizani from Kasungu based TN Stars to guide the team in the top division after finishing as runners up in the Thumbs Up Southern Region Football league. They earned promotion into the top tier after Thumbs Up Champions Nyasa Big Bullets Reserve decided against joining the league to continue being a feeder team to their senior team.
On the last day of the regional league Sable were convincingly beaten 3-1 by Bullets Reserve at the Mpira Stadium and they entered the top flight league having failed to be the best team even the lower league.
Malizani was seen as a perfect coach for Sable following his impressive run at TN where he guided who had guided the team to a 7th place finish with 43 points in the 2020/21 league season winning 12 games, drawing 7 and losing 11 games.
However, Sable FC expected Malizani to wave his magic wand without providing him with the right resources to enable him replicate his TN Stars performance.
The team kept a majority of the players that played in the lower league and made weaker reinforcements that have not helped to bolster their quality and compete in the top league.
Semion Singa, a peripheral figure at Mighty Wanderers, was roped in to beef up the central midfield while Innocent Msowoya, rejected at Bullets Reserve was also signed. Christopher Gototo was also signed from central region lower league outfit Ekas Freight Wanderers to sample life in the Super League as the team looked to sharpen its attack.
Veteran defender George Nyirenda also joined the team after he led Ntopwa FC to relegation last season. Sable made Nyirenda the Captain but it was not hard to see from their first game, a 0-2 defeat away at Civo that the sailing would be a tough one for Malizani and his charges.
From the games Sable FC have played, it is plain for one to see that even Pep Guardiola would have challenges guiding the team to victories. The team just lacks the needed quality.
Of course Malizani can be taken to task over some of his coaching decisions in the eight games he has presided over Sable, but the main problem of the team is that it did not invest in players.
In defence, with a several things to improve on, George Nyirenda looks like the only player that can play in the league. At times, Malizani has even tried to experiment deploying Nyirenda in central midfield and the decision has backfired as that doesn not only leaves the defence vulnerable, but also weakens the midfield as the former Nyasa Big Bullets player is not known for good ball distribution to be trusted with the midfield position.
At the back, Sable do not look like they can play without George’s leadership. It is of little wonder that at his age, George is still entrusted with the deadball duties including penalties. He missed one against Blue Eagles which would have earned his team a draw. Such is the lack of quality and personality in the Sable team that only George seems to have the mentality to take on responsibilities.
In midfield, Innocent Nyirenda is not that bad. In the games he has played, he has demonstrated that he is a quality defensive midfielder. It is of little surprise that coach Mario Marinica has even roped him in the provisional Flames squad currently in camp.
But Msowoya cannot do the job alone. There is a need for him to partner a good attacking midfielder to organise play and act as a playmaker. Semion Singa, with his potential, has not demonstrated he is that kind of player. The former Nomad is a type of player that loves a back pass and does not have the courage to take on opponents and open up spaces. It is not very surprising Wanderers had to let him go.
Other than Singa, Sable have Frank Mlimanjira as their other attacking midfielder. Mlimanjira is a good player, but the Super League demands more. He is yet to build the stamina and the courage needed to prize open opponents. He does not look like a player that can play an intense 90 minutes and his movement inside the opponent’s area is limited.
From the midfield, the lack of potent upfront is as clear as the day.
Striker Emmanuel Lino, their top scorer so far, has shown glimpses of individual brilliance on a few occasions including the lovely volley he scored in the 2- 0 win over Red Lions. However Lino does a lot of running outside the box as he always lacks supply from his midfielders. His striking partner, Chifundo Ngapemba is without a goal in all the eight games he has featured. Ngapemba does not look like a striker and looks lost when the team is in possession. When he gets a chance on goal, his finishing is not that great.
Sable FC star player in the lower division, Humphreys Chimwaza is a shadow of the player he was in the lower league. Whether its stage fright or whatever, the winger looks bereft of confidence and has been not played a full match since the start of the league due to performance.
Christopher Gototo has also been disappointing. Expected to be a star perfomer, the player has not impressed either and it is of little wonder that he has been starting matches from the bench in most games. When given a chance, he has not impressed, making poor decisions like holding on to the ball unnecessarily.
Overall, apart from Msowoya and Lino, the individual performances of the players at Sable have not been that great. Of course one would argue it is the duty of the coach to get the best out of his players, but coaches also want to work with quality players who have mastered the basics of the game and understand their roles on the pitch. This is why even the best of the coaches in the world force their clubs to splash the cash and bring quality players to their teams. Otherwise sometimes coaches are just victims of circumstances, as the team cannot fire all players at once.
With Malizani on suspension, the interim boss will have to work extra harder to achieve anything with the crop of players Sable has. With as many games lost already, the target for now will surely be surviving in the league. To achieve this, the interim manager will have to look to management to help him reinforce his squad in January, funds permitting, otherwise, he might be another victim of circumstances. Only time will tell.