It was a day of international friendlies on Wednesday and instead of taking to the field, the Flames were getting to know who will be steering the ship in the next six months or so. Knowing the state of our national team, I do not know whether I should be congratulating Eddington Ng’onamo, Ernest Mtawali, Patrick Mabedi and the rest of the crew, or feeling sorry for them.
What is clear, however, is that they will need a lot of luck in their new assignments and that I will unreservedly wish them. I am also happy for them because they have won the vote of confidence to restore the national team’s lost glory. For the sake of the team and for the sakes of the individuals in the interim technical panel, we need to give them all the support they need to deliver.
Another piece of local news this week was the Super League game between Silver Strikers and Blantyre United who were both fighting for this season’s championship. There is no doubt that the 5-0 result was sensational but the suggestions that there was match-fixing simply because of the goal margin is outrageous, to say the least. Anyone who has watched football for more than a day would not say that.
Some of the arguments to support the theory that there could have been some foul play are plainly ridiculous. One argument says a contender for the title cannot lose by such a margin. Really? Last season in England, a league contender in Manchester United lost by 6-1 on its own turf. Perhaps the Premier League was stupid in not probing if there was some match-fixing there as well?
The other reasons do not even warrant a comment but suffice to say football is a funny game and stranger things have happened in this sport. In any case, United did not need to lose by a wide margin to fix the game because there are no issues of goal difference here. But if people have other grounds, apart from the scoreline, they should provide them to authorities instead of looking dumb in public.
In South Africa, it is final day tomorrow as new favourites Nigeria meet Burkina Faso in Johannesburg. Once they knocked out pre-tournament favourites the Ivory Coast in the quarter-finals, the Super Eagles were always on course to make the finals at the very least and the manner in which they disposed of Mali in the semi-finals made most fans believe they are set to win this year’s honours.
That belief was enhanced when it was later known that it would be the Stallions of Burkina Faso—not the Black Stars of Ghana—who would be standing in their way. For me, anyone who thinks the final tomorrow will be a mere formality is in for a rude shock because I expect it to be a very competitive match and either side has what it takes to claim the continental title.
Looking at the officiation on Wednesday, you would think that the referee was the romantic type and wanted a Ghana-Nigeria final. One hopes tomorrow’s officials do not pick favourites and will allow the better or deserving side to carry the day. It is always a bad football day when referees rob the players of the limelight that should always be theirs and I am glad that the official in question has faced some sanctions.
In England, one of the bigger headlines in the week was the announcement by Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher that he would be retiring from playing at the end of the season. The word legend gets bandied out recklessly but I would not begrudge anyone conferring it on a man that has served one club for 26 years. From what I know about him he will be a manager one day.