So the mind games worked after all? After annoying the football fraternity with the ridiculous protest over the venue of last weekendâ€™s Standard Bank Knockout Trophy final, Mighty Wanderers general secretary David Kanyenda has been having a field day after the team managed to register an impressive 2-0 victory that saw the trophy travel down-south. Congratulations are in order to the Nyerere family.
The triumph in the Capital City was more than a mere cup win for the Nomads. With the stakes raised by their part-sponsors Carlsberg Malawi, they were under pressure to win something given that their rivals Big Bullets already have the Presidential Cup on their shelves. As regards on-field performance, therefore, the two teams are level so far and they would only differ on off-field aspects.
Given what was said in the wake of the Bullets, cup victory, Carlsberg were forced to say something again this time and they said the obvious â€” that Wanderers had put themselves back in contention. I insist that the earlier comment was ill-advised because as sponsors they are not supposed to be running commentaries on the two teamsâ€™ chances. It would be wise for them to keep their counsel until the end of the season.
Of course, we should commend Carlsberg because they have made an immense contribution towards reigniting the rivalry between the two clubs, thereby making local football competitive again. With Silver Strikers and Civo hoisting the Central Region flag and Moyale Barracks representing the Northern Region among the elite, the local game has become exciting once more.
Because of the renewed interest, local games continue to be well patronised even with the resumption of the English football season. It is interesting to see people preferring to go to a local football pitch even where there is a big early kick-off in the English Premier League. One hopes the momentum will be sustained in the coming months and years because that can only benefit the teams.
Improved local football increases the performance levels of our teams and, by extension, the national team which incidentally finds itself in a big battle this afternoon in Lilongwe. The Flames are supposed to overturn a 2-0 away defeat to Ghanaâ€™s Black Stars if they are to make the decisive step on the way to South Africa for next yearâ€™s African Cup of Nations finals.
Like most Malawians, I would like to see the Flames make it to South Africa, but, again like most Malawians, I am not confident this will be achieved because the odds are heavily stuck against us. We are not only playing a vastly superior side, but the challenge facing us is very huge. We need to win by three clear goals to proceed, or at least reverse the Accra score simply to force extra time.
That notwithstanding, I expect the Flames to put up a spirited performance if only to salvage some pride. A three-goal win might be a tall order, but defeat will be unacceptable. The team needs to win the match to give something to the fans packed inside Civo Stadium, listening on the radio or following the match through other means. That is the least we deserve and we demand nothing less.
As usual the international matches provide some relief to some of us still reeling from poor results in England. It is not news any more that my Liverpool continues to misfire despite some impressive performances, but as I keep saying, we walk on with hope as our world-famous anthem implores us to do every time.