We, Malawians, love football or soccer. We love watching the beautiful game although there are a lot of ugly tackles. When our teams, some domiciled very far away from our country, win, we celebrate. When they lose, we commiserate. We love the football players, too. Professor Abiti Joyce Befu, especially, loves Ronaldo’s thigh and Messi’s golden beard. We love the football coaches. We love Joza Mourinho and Pepa Guardiola.
Here at home we love our players. The experienced Jahman Kamwendo and Esau Kanyenda always bring joy in our homes when they score. In Ndixville market, we reduce the prices of our wares when our teams win. Yes, we do. We love football mostly because it is the one thing that unites us and makes us happy. There is no quota selection in football. Football is the only thing that makes us forget about our poverty; our lack of medicines in hospitals; our poor-quality teaching materials in schools; our irresponsible politics and, of course, our cashgating leaders.
When our national team, the Flames, wins, the nation wins; Malawi wins. When the Flames lose, the nation loses; Malawi loses. Perchance half of the current population was not there when Malawi beat Morocco; beat Cameroun; beat Egypt; beat Zambia; beat Uganda, and beat all small teams that beat us today. Each time our team beat any team, we were happy; we jumped for joy; we whistled; we ululated; we sang; we ding-donged; we caroused all night; we shed tears of joy; we carried the players shoulder high. We worshipped, adored and praised Kinnah Phiri; Young Chimodzi; Lawrence Waya, Frank Sinalo, Jack Africa Chamangwana, Peterkins Kayira and Boniface Maganga. Yes, we did.
These players knew they were being worshipped and praised but our adoration never went to their heads. Instead, they bowed their heads and praised God for their talent and successes that made even the hard-to-please Ngwazi Dr H.Kamuzu Banda happy.
Of course, when the team lost we got angry and swore at the players. Our anger would soon dissipate because in no time the Malawi national team would win and bring back our smiles. We won the East and Central Africa Challenge Cup back-to-back by beating some of the toughest teams in Africa. Yes, we did.
We won because we set ourselves very high goals. We won because the players were committed to winning. The Kinnah Phiris would promise a win to please the nation or break and leave their legs in the football pitch. We won because the football managers at the time were determined to win. They supported the team. They helped the team. They just did everything in the book for our Flames to win.
We won because our coach (was it Wonder Morella?) had set himself winning goals. We won because our coach was dedicated to his work. Simple football arithmetic goes thus: Good and determined coach + Good and determined players + Good and goal-driven managers = wining team.
Today, we have a good coach who is not determined to win. We have good players that are not determined to win. We have good football managers that are not determined to win. When the coach, manager and players are visionless and goalless, the team loses ad nauseum. How, in the name of Jah Rastafari, can a responsible coach praise his players for losing? Who does he think we are? Pieces of monkey kebab?
How, in the name of Beelzebub, do players celebrate losing? Mourinho gets angry when his players lose. His Manchester United players feel sorry and apologetic when they lose.
We reached a simple verdict: Coach Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) must be fired by Monday; Walter Nyamilandu and his failing Football Association of Malawi should resign immediately after firing RVG; the entire national football team players, including those who warm the bench match after match, should be fired. In short, the Flames must disband, immediately. And none of the players must be recalled to the national team. We need a new FAM, a new coach and new players and a new nickname. Instead of Malawi Flames, how about becoming Malawi Catapults (Malegeni)? At least we should be feared.