Whether they can call it the best format ever for a football season in Maldives or the most competitive or the best for atoll football; the truth is the new format for Maldives football season is a mess from the very first kick off until now. Looking at how the first match day of Dhivehi Premier League unfolded it is so obvious to even a short sighted person that this “brilliant” format is a joke.
No matter how hard we try not to discriminate Male’ and Atoll football, the reality is the level of football played in Male’ and atolls are million miles apart. The clubs from atolls are nowhere close to compete with the giants of Maldivian football in long run. They could give a fight may be a game or two, but in a 14 game league they simply have got no chance.
The only good we have seen so far in this season is Kudadhuvadhoo’s decision to stick with their Minivan Championship winning side for the Premier league and let them experience and taste the top flight football. Many first division players joined atoll based teams for the sake of continuing to play until end of season but the final outcome would be defeat after defeat and finish the league probably humiliated. We have seen how teams from Thinadhoo, Kalhaidhoo and other islands played in top division and with number of embarrassing results against teams like VB Sports and their names faded away for many years until recently. Probably, the generation who suffered those humiliating results have already hung up their boots disheartened and in shame.
The winner of Dhivehi Premier League will automatically qualify to next year’s AFC Cup, it is still unknown at this stage how well FAM is prepared for a scenario in which an atoll based team wins the league. AFC Cup participating teams are required to meet certain standards and it is very unlikely any of the teams from atolls meet those standards.
If we want to give atoll based teams the chance to experience top level football and to compete against the giants, President’s cup is the most feasible option. A tournament of eight teams divided into two groups that needs less than two weeks to complete. A feasible time frame for atoll based teams to stay in Male’ and no doubt is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the country.
But the current format has already backfired so bad that clubs that spent millions are forced to wrap up the season on goal difference mid-way through the season leaving key national team players begging for clubs to continue playing in the year. Not an ideal situation for Maldivian football, especially when the country has one eye on next year’s SAFF Championship.