The stone that the builder rejected eventually became the cornerstone as South Africa-based forward Robin Ngalande scored his first goal for the Flames on Saturday against Zimbabwe’s make shift side at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre. The match ended in a one-one draw.
The 20-year-old former Atletico Madrid youth side forward was not in the initial 35-member bloated squad that was called up by coach Eddington Ng’onamo for this tie as well as the forthcoming 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Namibia’s Brave Warriors and Kenya’s Harambee Stars. He was drafted into the squad at a later stage.
Ngalande capitalised on a comical goalkeeping error by Maxwell Nyamupanengu to dink the ball deftly into the net after 29 minutes. It was all easy and as soft as the cheeks of a newly born baby, oh yes!
Such was the significance of the goal for Ngalande that he celebrated it in a special way by blowing kisses to the crowd which responded with a standing ovation.
Apart from the goal, Ngalande also proved that he is not over the hill with a vintage display—those cheeky body swerves and sublime touch, but that said, he was guilty of playing the ball back too often.
He could have claimed a double in the 41st minute, but to the astonishment of the spectators, he failed to slot the ball home with only Nyamupanengu at his mercy.
Coincidentally, the Warriors equaliser came 29 minutes into the second half and in a similar fashion when Malawi’s goaltender Owen Chaima fumbled a harmless cross from the left and in ghosted Kudakwashe Musharu to provide the final punch.
The match itself failed to stir the passions as both teams played a dour kick-and-rush game with the Warriors dominating the early stages, but suddenly there was renewed purpose in the Flames play in the second half before they lost the plot towards the end.
Call it what you want — lifeless, hopeless, helpless and spiritless and joyless — and it all qualifies for a fitting description of this drab game.
The only other talking point was perhaps Douglas ‘Chibadula’ Chirambo’s free-kick that squirmed past Nyamupenengu, but the ball hit the crossbar before bouncing on the line and was cleared into safety by a Warriors defender and relief was the prevalent emotion on the visitors bench in the 67th minute.
And although Flames caretaker coach Ng’onamo put on a brave face by insisting that he was happy with the performance of his local-based charges, he was left with plenty of food for thought in the countdown to next month’s World Cup qualifiers.
Zimbabwe’s all-time great and assistant coach Peter Ndlovu said the draw was a fitting result.