The National Supporters Committee has asked Football Association of Malawi (FAM) to incorporate juju experts in the Flames’ technical committee as was the case in the past.
The supporters, led by chairperson Zakaria Kasakula and executive member Austin Kasito, say this would change the team’s fortunes.
“It is an open secret that we used to have such people on the technical panel disguised as goalkeeper trainers or team managers. Now it is no longer that way and that is why the team is not doing well.
“Most of the opponents we face use juju openly and we need people who know about zamakolo in the team to counter that,” said Kasito.
He further argued that recent moves by FAM to sideline juju practitioners in the team’s activities has resulted in the Flames failing to beat simple opponents like Namibia, Kenya and Botswana.
“Teams such as Botswana, Kenya, DRC, Uganda, Rwanda and even South Africa openly use juju. They are not embarrassed since it works. We should have people to counter that threat. The role of juju people is to protect the team from juju effects from opponents and, at the same time, apply our juju to confuse them,’ said Kasito.
Commenting on the issue, Kasakula said the role of supporters in the technical team is to give the coach and players’ guidance on things they are not conversant with.
“The coach should concentrate on training the team while supporters must protect the team from opponents’ scheming. There are a lot of things which happen prior and during the match which can best be tackled by ‘ma sapota odziwa zamakolo’ [supporters who are knowledgeable in traditional medicine]. The supporters’ role is not only to cheer their team,” he said.
But FAM has rejected the proposal, warning the supporters against going back to medieval times.
FAM general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda said the team has to move on and not dwell in the past.
“People do use juju, but it has never worked as evidenced by the fact that no African team has ever won the world Cup. What the team needs is stable partnership with the corporate world and support from all stakeholders. On top of that, we need God’s guidance. That is the secret to success,” said Nyirenda.
Former national team coach Yasin Osman admitted that during his tenure as coach, he met opponents who used juju openly.
“When playing against some teams, we could see strange objects littered in strategic parts on the field during warm-up time. A strangely dressed juju man would come on the field, [uttering incoherent phrases] while throwing objects or water. I used to tell my players to ignore such things,” he said.
Osman said even in his team, he had to fight against the juju philosophy.
“I have always resisted juju. There were a lot of elements advocating the implementation of juju, but I stood firm because I believe in God. I have had players who believed in juju but I told them that since it was their democratic right, they could go ahead and apply that. But I warned them not to influence other players to use juju,” said Osman.
“What happens is that when the team loses, they either blame the players or the coach for not following instructions when using juju. I also believe that the teams that use juju publicly do so just to disturb their opponents psychologically” he said.
Kasito, however, said belief in juju does not mean one does not have faith in God.
“When we use juju, we do so with the blessings of God. We pray to God. We also need to have a good team and god players. The juju is there to complement [the team’s efforts],” he said.
Another former national team coach Alex Masanjala admitted that he used to face countries that were never embarrassed to use juju as their tsambang’omas could openly do a juju ritual on the field.