The white smoke seemed to be billowing from Chiwembe Technical Centre, signalling that the procrastination on the Flames’ captaincy had ended. Joseph Kamwendo and Lucky Malata had slipped into the robes of skipper and deputy skipper respectively.
If the Flames interim coach Eddington Ng’onamo’s ordination of Kamwendo was hardly surprising in respect of his undoubted class, wealth of experience and newly-found consistency, the same could not be said of the Silver Strikers’ lucky boy, Malata.
To earn the black, red and green armband before his debut was the stuff of a drama script.
Another twist awaited Malata. He made history for undesirable reasons in being a second-in-command who, even in Kamwendo’s absence, could not earn a starting berth in Tuesday’s warm-up match in Botswana.
Make no mistake about it. Malata has the potential to be a great team leader. His contribution to Silver’s league title retention was abundantly clear. Being voted the league’s best defender was a foregone conclusion.
But wait a minute: we are talking about a different terrain here.
Being thrown into the captaincy before Malata finds his feet in the rough and tumble of international football could either make or break the young man’s career.
Pray for the former.
From another angle, Kamwendo and Malata’s installation should have been good news that the Flames are moving off Peter Mponda’s shadow.
But the black smoke reappeared with Ng’onamo clarifying that Kamwendo and Malata are on temporary basis while waiting for the mist on Mponda to clear.
It seems only Mponda can clear this persisting black smoke, leading to a conclusion that the choice of the Flames captain is a hit-and-miss game.
It is high time benchmarks were set for selecting skippers. Players must be prepared for bigger challenges while at junior national teams.
To do some free consultancy for FAM technical committee, I refer them to former England cricket team captain Mike Brearley’s book, The Art of Captaincy.
Brearley writes that class and charisma are prerequisites for a potential captain, adding: “The man must have some ability as a player. He must have common sense. He must from time to time take an unpopular line.”
Brearly notes that a captain must be knowledgeable on tactics and have a strong mental character.
These are the qualities that most coaches see in Mponda. Unfortunately, his time is up. Over to you Dala!