Around this time two years ago, I was in AngolaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s capital Luanda watching the opening game of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations between the hosts Palancas Negras [Black Antelopes] and the Eagles of Mali at the November Stadium.
What I remember most about that evening is not the stuff of footballing fantasy displayed by MaliÃ¢â‚¬â€who, inspired by Frederic Kanoute and Seydou KeitaÃ¢â‚¬â€defied all odds to come from three goals down to force the hosts to a 3-3 draw. It was a lady called Ana Paula dos SantosÃ¢â‚¬â€the First Lady of Angola.
Ladies and gentlemen, Ana Paula is a beauty, a charmer of a lady. What struck me most were her actions. She appeared free and easy. The press gallery was not far from where the Angolan First Couple sat. I do not regret missing the greater part of the action on the pitch as my attention was on Ana Paula.
She looked youthful in her black mini dress. Her beauty appeared so natural. Every time her team scored, she would jump from her seat and, I am certain that I saw more than what my eyes should have seen. For a while, I envied the Angolan president and felt the old man was lucky to have such a young beautiful carefree chic for a wife.
The following day, I was back at the same venue. This time, to watch my beloved Flames stunning the Desert Foxes of Algeria into submission with a 3-0 win in their opening game. It was an afternoon when the boys from my motherland floated like butterflies and stung like bees. They basked in the global limelightÃ¢â‚¬â€with some respected analysts even labelling them as potential champions of AfricaÃ¢â‚¬â€as MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s romantic flirtation with the continental showpiece reached new dizzy heights.
That was two years ago, when the Flames were good enough to dine with the cream of African footballÃ¢â‚¬â€the likes of Didier Drogba, Samuel EtoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢o, Keita, Kanoute and Asamoah Gyan.
This coming weekend the continental showpiece, will be launched in GabonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s capital Libreville and that countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s First Lady, Sylvia Bongo Ondimba, another combo of a lady, is expected to attend. Sadly, though, I will not have a chance to admire SylviaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s beauty because of my beloved FlamesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ failure to qualify. All I can do is curse the Flames for failing to hold on to their lead on that unforgettable evening in NÃ¢â‚¬â„¢djamena when Chad equalised in the last minute of added time. Oh boy!
Sadly, it is back to the dark old days for the Flames, when they used to be perennial armchair viewers of the continentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s biggest football showÃ¢â‚¬â€when a dance with AfricaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best players on the grand stage only came in their dreams. It is back to the old ways of supporting other national teams at the continental showpieceÃ¢â‚¬â€the likes of our Zambian brothers, Botswana, Cote dÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Ivoire and Ghana. Kaya ndikwera iti, kaya!