Not surprised by Harawa’s exploits

Talk is on Moyale Barracks goalkeeper MacDonald Harawa’s post-match penalty exploits between the sticks when helping the Flames advance to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying group stages.

I, on September 8 2013, published on this very same column why I rated Harawa highly. May you, therefore, allow me to exercise some laziness and reproduce what I wrote that time. Here we go.

Some international football pundits feel Carlo Ancelotti’s faith in Diego Lopez as Real Madrid’s number one vindicates ex-manager Jose Mourinho’s axing of long-serving Estadio Santiago Bernabeu poster boy Iker Casillas.

That opinion might hold true on paper but technically, I think Ancelotti merely appreciates the sensitivity of a goalkeeping position. In football, only in exceptional cases are such positions tampered with.

It takes time for defenders and custodians to be on the same communication wavelength.

I was, therefore, unsurprised that Spain boss Vicente del Bosque maintained Casillas at the Confederations Cup in Brazil where I think the World Champions would not have reached the final if it were not for the Madrid ‘keeper’s telling saves. In the semifinal, it was Italy against Casillas.

This brings me to the case of Simplex Nthala’s dropping as the Flames’ number one in favour of Charles Swini/Owen Chaima.

Based on the 2013 Cosafa Castle Cup form, Flames coach Tom Saintfiet had reason to doubt Nthala’s MG1 credentials.

Because no one monitors Mozambique-based players, Nthala was summoned for duty while recovering from a lengthy injury lay-off. In Zambia, Nthala lacked match fitness but this should be faulted on the selectors.

But in terms of experience and an ability to play sweeper, Nthala is still better.

From school and youth football, Nthala passed through developmental stages before spending years understudying deposed Flames’ first choice Swadick Sanudi.

Nthala has appeared prone, especially in set pieces of late due to the fact that the Flames’ defence has changed. Peter Mponda, Elvis Kafoteka left the stage and the level of understanding is not the same. The defence lacks leadership.

Even in such circumstances, Swini and Owen Chaima are betrayed by fundamental goalkeeping errors. They never went through developmental stages.

Swini and Chaima have good shot stopping skills, recovery, flexibility and positional discipline. But they are unable to see what top ‘keepers see, danger before the danger.

Swini has an edge over Chaima due to his big presence and ball distribution, but both are poor communicators. They feel intimidated to organise defenders. Chaima ball distribution is bad and he lacks intimidating presence.

Minus Nthala, Moyale Barracks’ McDonald Harawa is the man for me.

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