This was clearly not in the script. If you are a neutral observer, the drama that has taken place in the relaunched Carlsberg Cup in the last few weeks would really excite you, seeing that almost all of the highly probable winners have been knocked out, but if you have other vested interests, you would be quaking in your boots because that scenario would, without doubt, mitigate against other pursuits.
If one were asked to name countryâ€™s four most followed sides, there would likely be the same names on the list and these would be Big Bullets, Mighty Wanderers, Civo United and Silver Strikers, not necessarily in that order. When you have all of them knocked out of a cup, chances are that you are looking at a poorly attended cup final unless there are other measures to lure fans to the stadium.
Yes, there are still clubs remaining on the ticket that have been successful of late, but the fan base in Malawi has been rigid for a long time with emerging giants struggling to grow the number of followers despite their success on the pitch. So, while it would be exciting to see a totally different side winning the seasonâ€™s third trophy, I am sure the Football Association of Malawi is not entirely amused, regardless of what they may openly say.
If you are Carlsberg Malawi, you would publicly want to be seen to be indifferent to the situation as it has turned out because, as a sponsor, you have no favourites, but with the two clubs you sponsor both booted out â€” in disgraceful circumstances for that matter â€” there is a great likelihood that you would be wincing privately at the turn of events. This is certainly not what they were hoping for.
But such is the beauty of football that predictions and expectations get rudely battered more often than not. The gameâ€™s reputation is in fact built on the surprises it throws around, sometimes with annoying regularity. That is precisely why we should accept and embrace what has happened and look forward to seeing how the rest of the tournament pans out.
While on surprises, was it not sensational that Barcelonaâ€™s record start to the season had to be stopped by, of all teams, Glasgow Celtic? After tasting no defeat since the start of the season, the Catalan giants were beaten by a team that had only 17 percent possession of the ball and that in itself is another entry for the record books. It may have not dented the Spanish giantsâ€™ chances of progressing, but it has certainly boosted those of the Bhoys.
Elsewhere, Manchester United booked their ticket to the knockout phase as their neighbours Manchester City worsened their already poor chances of progressing from the group. A last-gasp winner for Chelsea and a draw for the Arsenal mean the London sides still have a chance of making it to the Round of 16 in the last two group games.
After a slight wobble in the last few games, the Blues will have welcomed their dramatic victory ahead of their Super Sunday home clash against my Liverpool, who themselves lost on their European adventure having rested 10 first-team players obviously with an eye on this Stamford Bridge encounter. Striker Fernando Torres is still looking for his first goal against his former side, but the pressure on him is definitely lifted now.