Any win is sweet. Even sweeter when by accident of nationality, the only national team you can place allegiance on are the Flames.
It was, therefore, understandable that some fans were excited as if they had won a jackpot after that 1-0 win in Rwanda in an international friendly match. The Kigali match had all sorts of implications on the September 7 trip to Nigeria.
What is certain is that the result, coming after three straight defeats, might have some positive effect on the Flames going to Nigeria.
Never mind that Rwanda are lightweights. What mattered most was that this was a Fifa sanctioned day for warm-up matches and that the Flames, minus key players Joseph Kamwendo, Foster Namwela, Esau Kanyenda, Robert Ng’ambi and Chiukepo Msowoya, won.
The players’ absence left coach Tom Saintfiet with a thread-bare squad but one with hungrier players who still treat the Flames’ jerseys as sacred. Players such as Phillip Masiye still have something to prove.
It is, therefore, important to always use developmental competitions such as Cosafa Castle Cup to develop players.
Most teams brought to the Cosafa Cup in Zambia Under-23 and Under-20 players. Surely, such teams must have identified players to promote to senior teams going into the last lap of the World Cup qualifiers.
Now reflecting on the Rwanda trip, I do not know whether Flames coach Tom Saintfiet will stick to the winning team or turn his attention to all the five players whose unavailability for the August 14 match hardly seem coincidental.
I refuse to believe that all the five really withdrew from the Rwanda trip for the reasons we were made to believe. I trust my instincts.
It is important for FAM to be on top of things when it comes to foreign based players. You do not necessarily need a match to scamper around looking at who is available or not.
Every week, pick a phone or log onto Facebook or WhatsApp, chat with the professionals’ and pretend you care for them, then such withdrawals would be minimal.
It is even more important to interact with coaches for these foreign-based players.
Going to Nigeria, FAM will need to be on top of things. Go a step further to hire a psychologist and disclose the one-off improved players’ game bonuses. Remember you are meeting Africa kings.