My good tyre-fitter friend, popularly known as Gama, who operates in my Kanjedza Township, is a lively fella. He always thrills my world.
Last Friday morning, just a day before the Flames engaged Nigeriaâ€™s Super Eagles in a 2014 World Cup qualifier, I visited Gama at the filling station where he operates from and he asked me what chances the Flames had against the Super Eagles.
My take was that, on paper, the Nigerians were favourites, but such is the beauty of the game that our beloved Flames could not be just written off, more so when their home record has not been bad. I reminded Gama about the major upset that the Flames inflicted on the then African championsâ€”Egyptâ€™s Pharaohs.
And Gama could not agree with me more and he said: â€œNdipo titayichinyatu kungakhale zisangalalo, tikhoza kukwera pa Fifa calendar!â€ I laughed my lungs out because I realised he meant to say â€˜Fifa rankingsâ€™ and not â€˜calendarâ€™â€”boy! Oh boy!
Ladies and gentlemen, there could have been no better way to lift my spirits ahead of the game than Gamaâ€™s comment. So, on Saturday, I went to Kamuzu Stadium believing that my Flames would turn on the magic and scorch the Eagles of Abuja. But alas! It was the same old song.
The Flames drove the big turnout through a bewildering gut of emotions and reminded me of my days of innocence as a Standard One pupil when our teacher would take us through the Chichewa vowel lessonâ€”A E I O U!
My class teacher was a Mrs Masuku. I still remember that she led us in the chorus Pamchenga, timatero posewera, uyu nâ€™chani? and the whole class would scream â€˜A!â€™ We would sing all the way to U, as she pointed at the vowels on a blackboard with a ruler.
And so the Flames took the fans through Chichewa vowel lessons, albeit in a different manner, as they fluffed chance after chance. When Russell Mwafulirwa missed a seater, the whole stadium went Aaaaa!!! Then, when Robin Ngalandeâ€™s attempt hit the post, the fans reacted by screaming Eeeeee! Then, came Chimango Kaira who just could not provide the final flourish with only goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama at his mercy and the whole stadium reacted: iiii!!!
The Flames were later to rue those chances when Gabriel Ruben swung upfield to plant the ball home, sending the fans into cathedral-hush silence with only a minute to full-time. But still the Flames never gave up hope and showed characteristic grit to equalise through the last kick of the game. I could see Enyeama holding his head in his hands in disbelief and although I was not near him, surely he should have screamed â€˜chineke!â€™
That said, it is time Kinnah Phiri realised we are fed up with the draws and his continued assurance that things will get better!