Fischer Kondowe’s call-up to the Flames three weeks ago was ridiculed a lot on social media networks, with soccer fans arguing he is a spent force and does not deserve to be recalled for national duty.
His inclusion in the 20-member squad that travelled to Namibia last week met even worse resistance as fans accused new coach Eddington Ng’onamo of favouring players from Big Bullets FC—the team he coaches—at the expense of merit.
But the workaholic right-winger rose from the shadows of death to prove all the critics wrong with a man-of-the-match display to inspire the Flames to a 1-0 win over Namibia’s Brave Warriors in a 2014 World Cup Qualifier last Saturday.
Playing his first full competitive game for the Flames since he fell out of grace with fired coach Kinnah Phiri in October 2010, Fischer created the only goal of the match scored by Gabadniho Mhango.
He was also at the hub of the Flames best moves of the evening with combative runs on the right wing.
This is the man whose career was in a shambles three years ago when he was declared excess to requirements at South Africa Premier Soccer League (PSL) side Black Leopards.
“Who God has blessed no man curses. God gave me the talent and he is the only one who will take it away from me.
“What some people were saying just made me stronger and better. My career was never down. That is why I never gave up and continued working hard because I know national team football will always be there for everyone who works hard,” said Fischer in an interview on Wednesday.
Ng’onamo feels vindicated on his decision to include the right winger following his performance in Namibia.
“He is a changed person and working very hard in training. I will not judge players depending on their past or what people say, but what they show me on the pitch and in camp,” said Ng’onamo.
Until last Saturday, Fischer’s name was on the lips of soccer enthusiasts for wrong reasons.
His last appearance for the Flames was a bench show in 2010 against Chad. In fact, he was left on the bench after it was alleged he had sneaked out of camp to have fun two days before the match.
But he will never forget being dropped at the Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) as the Flames were going for the historic 2010 Afcon finals in Angola via Egypt for a friendly game for alleged same mischief.
“Those are some of my lowest moments in my career, I don’t even want to talk about. It is only in Malawi where players are punished without being heard. I have played professional football at three top clubs in South Africa where players are called to a disciplinary hearing for any charge.
“In all the cases, I was punished without trial. The Afcon pains me a lot because I worked hard and contributed a lot in the qualifiers and deserved better. They thought they were punishing me, but they only made me stronger and defined my character,” he said.
The frustration reached a boiling point in August last year when he announced he would quit the game at the end of last season. This means by now, he should have been a month old into retirement.
“I have changed my mind. I will not let people force me to quit the game that is dearest to my heart. I am not a failure and a quitter. It was all because of frustrations. I will play football until my body tells me it’s enough and that is more than five years from now,” he said.
Kondowe thanked his parents, Bullets chairperson Malinda Chinyama, general secretary Higger Mkandawire and supporters chairperson Geoff Mbalati for encouraging him not to give up.
The 31-year-old midfielder revealed that he is a devoted Rastafarian and is vegetarian of 14 years.
“I observe every Rastafarian ritual expect the smoking of chamba [Indian hemp]. I don’t smoke and I have never smoked as athletes we go under intensive doping as it is banned substance in sports. So, for the sake of my career, I don’t touch the stuff.
“I know a lot of people will doubt that because of my appearance and controversial behaviour sometimes, but those who are close to me know the truth that I have never touched chamba,” he said.
Fischer is single and has never had a steady girlfriend and dreams of getting one soon does not exist.
“I don’t have family because of my career. It involves a lot of travelling and you tend not to focus on your game. I will marry when God tells me to and may not even marry at all. At the moment, it is all about my career,” he said.
Having played in South Africa for seven seasons for three top teams, namely Umtata Bush Bucks, Bloemfontein Celtic and Leopards, Fischer claims he has saved and invested enough to bank on once he retires.
“I don’t want to talk about my investments, but I am safe and at peace with myself,” he said.
Nation On Sunday
investigations can reveal that the player owns a house and two cars, a Toyota Cresta and Toyota Rava 4 on top of two minibuses as some of his worth.