As far weekends go, last weekend was the closest to a perfect one for me from various perspectives. In football, not only did my Liverpool notch their first English Premier League win and how, but all the teams I favour in various leagues also registered victories. It is not often that Barcelona, Kaizer Chiefs, Ajax Amsterdam and Mighty Wanderers, among my long list of teams, all win in a weekend.
Talk of Wanderers, I donâ€™t know what the teamâ€™s general secretary David Kanyenda and his colleagues â€” assuming he was speaking for everyone â€” were trying to achieve in protesting against the venue for this afternoonâ€™s Standard Bank Cup final. I have read what he has said and listened to his interview on MBC as late as Thursday suggesting that it was not too late for FAM to change its position.
Now, I agree with Kanyenda and Wanderers that playing at Silver Stadium gives Silver Strikers some upper hand in a one-off final but what choice does anyone have in the situation? Every competition has its own rules and format. It would show great disorganisation to change those along the way. The final could not be played over two legs simply because of the teams involved.
Indeed, as far as stadiums go, I cannot see where else the game could have been played given the situation with both Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre and Civo Stadium. It is not Silverâ€™s fault that they have a stadium and Wanderers do not. It is also not the Bankersâ€™ problem that they also made the final. Wanderers should have just dealt with it and get on without behaving like cry-babies.
There is a possibility that Kanyenda was simply engaging in mind games seeing that as I was listening to that radio interview, the team was already on its way to Lilongwe to play in the final. If that is the case, I have to say that is the strangest form of mind games I have ever witnessed, particularly with the suggestion that one of the reasons Wanderers do not want to play at Silver is the juju that the home allegedly uses there.
Now, imagine you are a Wanderers player and, like Kanyenda, fear the impact of juju on a football match. What will be your thoughts as you take to the turf this afternoon? Are you not likely going to resign to your fate even before a ball is kicked? What if there is an unbelievable miss for Wanderers early on? Will the players not start thinking the juju is delivering results and, therefore, fear the worst?
Mind games, as I understand them, are supposed to ease pressure on your team while piling the same on the other team or referees. I donâ€™t see how Wanderers players can play freely if they are told the other team uses juju. Neither do I see Silver or indeed the officiating personnel being under any pressure over allegations that the Bankers rely on juju. These can only be mind games gone awry.
As a matter of fact, Kanyendaâ€™s insistence on the dangers of playing at Silver can have a reverse motivation effect on the players. I actually see the remarks as those coming from a team that is so afraid of its opponents that it is looking for ready excuses when the inevitable (from their perspective) happens. That is the most defeatist approach to a final I can ever think of. I only hope the players will ignore them.