Without big-name purchases and huge bonus incentives, Kamuzu Barracks’ fairy tale season was a result of discipline, hard work and determination—traits that define their true military second nature.
Officials and players from the club, still attempting to come to terms with their unexpected maiden league triumph, shared with Nation on Sunday this week the inside story of the season that turned the side based at Malawi Defence Force headquarters into Malawi’s version of Leicester City.
Attacking midfield maestro Harvey Nkacha attributed the team’s success to combined reasons, ranging from sheer fortitude and unity of purpose.
“Honestly, at the start of the season we never thought we could be champions. All we wanted was to finish in the top five,” said Nkacha.
KB delivered the league triumph while pitted against teams running on huge budgets like Bullets, Be Forward Wanderers and Silver Strikers. The three get an annual sponsorship worth K100 million each.
On the other hand, KB depend on army rations when fulfilling away fixtures. They never sought accommodation at fancy hotels or lodges but at MDF units yet they delivered a historic league triumph which has eluded military teams since the establishment of the Super League, proving that money is not everything to deliver success.
“Proper planning, good technical acumen and determination helped us a lot. If you look at the KB squad, they don’t have big names like at Wanderers, Bullets or Silver, but they have delivered. They have set the precedence and I think next season the league will take a different direction,” said Sulom president Innocent Bottoman.
To prove that KB league success was no fluke, the team also reached the finals of the Fisd Challenge Cup.
KB coach Billy Phambala was quite instrumental, but as he earned his first major honours, he said: “We had a good team, good administration plus moral support from army headquarters. With such kind of environment, it was easy to deliver on the pitch.”
Kamuzu Barracks Unit commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Blaise Saenda gave credit to the players and the technical staff for the victory.
“Of course, good and committed leadership played an important role in our success, but the players and the technical people played a bigger role,” said Saenda.
However, Nyasa Big Bullets chairperson Noel Lipipa insists that good sponsorship is essential for a club to succeed.
“We have good sponsorship, but we did not win the league. This is because of many factors like we had three changes of leadership within two seasons. This affected continuity. The other notable factor is that when we got the Nyasa sponsorship, we hiked players’ salaries, but we did not prepare the players psychologically,” said Lipipa.
Wanderers general secretary Mike Butao, while congratulating KB for the win, said they missed out on the league because the team was rebuilding.
“If you look at our squad, we have many new players. It takes time for these players to bond and play as a unit; that is why we were inconsistent in league games. It was easy in cup games because you just play a few games to make it to the finals,” said Butao.
He still maintained that for a team to succeed there is need for good sponsorship, which can enable the technical people to buy new players and offer incentives. n