Domestic football powerhouses Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers have admitted that pressure is now taking its toll following their unimpressive start to the 2016 TNM Super League season coupled with Blue Eagles’ remarkable run of clean sheet.
Ironically, the two giants have had a similar trend of results in which they have won one match and drawn the other three each, a situation that has fuelled calls for the removal of coaches—Frank ‘Franco’ Ndawa for the People’s Team and Nomads’ Jack ‘Africa’ Chamangwana.
Bullets responded swiftly by giving Ndawa a two-game ultimatum or risk the chop earlier this week while the Nomads management has stood by their man.
They each have six points from five games, nine short of leaders Eagles who have won all their five games. At the same point, last season, the Nomads were top of the table with 13 points while Bullets were third on 11 points.
But while the knives are out for the coaches, the two teams’ captains—Chiukepo ‘Yakubu’ Msowoya for Bullets and Francis ‘FM7’ Mlimbika—told Weekend Nation that to the contrary, it is the players who are not giving out their best shot.
Said Chiukepo: “As players we need to take the blame for the current situation. We are lacking hunger and commitment.
“So, I think the blame should not be directed at the coach alone”.
On his part, Mlimbika said: “There is no fighting spirit on our side, we are not giving out 100 percent effort, we need to fight in every game if we are to catch up and eventually, overtake Eagles.
“We should not get discouraged but fight on. It’s still in the early days of the season and I am sure we can do it”.
However, both captains ruled out sabotage theory, insisting that it is the attitude on the part of the players that is not right.
Ndawa could not be reached for comment, but Bullets acting general secretary Kelvin Moyo conceded that pressure is taking its toll.
“We cannot pretend that all is good. We are already nine points behind Eagles and that is a cause for worry.
“We need to catch up with Eagles and we can only do that by winning games and that is why we have given the coach a two-game ultimatum, starting with Saturday’s [today] fixture against Epac,” he said.
The Bullets spokesperson justified the ultimatum handed to the coach, saying his job is result-oriented.
“We set targets for him when we took him on board and they include defending the league title and if he has to achieve that then we need to win games consistently and by the way, we are not targeting the coach alone. We also have a meeting with the players on Sunday [tomorrow].
“Apart from maintaining players who performed miracles last season, we have even beefed it up by signing about six quality players. Besides that, both the players and technical staff were offered better deals. So, there should be no excuses.
“The fans, sponsors and management are expecting more,” said Moyo
On the other side, Wanderers general secretary Mike Butao said: “We are not happy with the way we have started for sure. The quality of players we have got should guarantee us three points in every game.
“So, pressure might be there, but we are not panicking either, it is only four games into the season. Congratulations to Eagles for accumulating maximum points so far, but we are not focusing on any other team, we are focusing on ourselves and the next game. We intend to be champions this season.”
On his part, Chamangwana attributed the poor start to the process of players building an understanding.
“With time as players gel, the team will get better. There are 25 more games to play and it’s too early to start pressing the panic button, especially the fans,” he said.
Renown soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda said Wanderers and Bullets have every reason to worry about Eagles’ good run because the cops’ side have a measure of consistency.
“In both 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons, they [Eagles] finished third, so they need to be taken seriously and to close in on a nine-point gap is not easy, especially when you are competing with such a consistent team,” he said.
During pre-season, Bullets beefed up their squad by signing goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe, defenders John Lanjesi, Emmanuel Zoya and George Nyirenda, midfielders Mike Mkwate, Amadu Makawa and striker Muhammad Sulumba while the Nomads roped in goalminder Nenani Juwaya, defenders Foster and Rafique Namwera, midfielder Ernest Tambe, strikers Jaffalie Chande, Amos Bello and Peter Wadabwa.n