Nyasa Big Bullets coach Franco Ndawa has suffered all the pain and humiliation in his career. Red Lions released him. Be Forward sacked him as did Silver Strikers and Azam Tigers.
If that track record of failure was not enough to utterly destroy this man, his appointment as Nyasa Big Bullets head coach nearly did. His arrival this year was met with soaring disapproval from some executive committee members and supporters.
But somehow, against all odds, Ndawa, a retired soldier, remained in his seat, unshaken, largely due to his militancy and promises of success, which, in the ears of his critics, surely sounded overwhelmingly vague.
“I am here to stay. It’s either you support me or leave,” he told The Nation newspaper as he administered his first training session at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
Last Saturday at Civo Stadium, under the same Ndawa, Bullets won the Presidential Cup; their first piece of silverware this season, after beating Moyale 4-3 in post-match penalties. Critics might argue that Bullets were lucky to triumph after labouring for the better part of the match, but victory is what matters at the end of the day.
If truth be told, Bullets wanted this trophy more than anybody else largely because they want to impress their sponsors Nyasa Manufacturing Company (NMC) who have bailed out them out from a long spell in wilderness of suffering and want.
“The sponsors gave us a target of a treble and this trophy is the start of that of the journey,” veteran winger Fischer Kondowe said after the match.
The victory was also timely for the People’s Team which is battling for stability amid a players and supporters revolt over unpaid signing-on fees estimated at over K40 million.
“The victory, as you can see, has united the Bullets family. Everyone is overwhelmed and I believe that from this win, we have built a foundation for more success,” left back YamikaniFodya remarked.
Bullets are not doing quite well in their TNM Super League title defence campaign having collected just four points from a possible 12 in the last four games.
The People’s team trails leaders Blue Eagles by nine points but the season is still young enough for Bullets to plot a fight up to the top.
As the match against Moyale can bear testimony, the belief Bullets ndikumadzulo is still as relevant as in the 1980s or 90s when they used to scrap victories in dying minutes when defeat looked inevitable.
So a treble is still a dream within Bullets’ horizons and Ndawa—who on Saturday was an animated figure on the touchline barking orders and at one point almost joining MussaManyenje on the attack—seems to have exploding energy to lead the mission.