Coach Nsanzurwimo Ramadhan’s return to Nyasa Big Bullets, for the third spell, this week was as predictable as their distinct red and white colours.
It is romance built on the solid foundation of endless respect, blind faith and unwavering loyalty.
Such has always been the case since 1997 when the Burundian visited Malawi while coaching Kiyovu Stars of Rwanda.
Except one isolated incident when a panga-wielding fan chased the coach from Kamuzu Stadium while trying to force him out of the job for being connected to the then chairperson, Kondie Msungama, very few at Bullets can fault Ramadhan. The coach and the man.
In the eyes of Bullets’ red army, Ramadhan never gets anything wrong on and off the pitch.
For Ramadhan, such is his loyalty to the team he never made noise despite being owed from his second stint in 2015. He is the club’s legend.
It is dangerous love but one a coach needs in abundance if he is to lead the team whose fans believe that winning is a constitutional right.
In Ramadhan, Bullets have their own who understand the team that operates like Inkhatha Freedom Party with difficult-to-please militant fans. Ramadhan will get the tactics, selection and the chemistry right.
“I know the team well and what the fans expect. We need to restore the pride of the team and win back the hearts of the fans,” the coach admitted during the week.
However, Ramadhan has come at a time when Bullets are rocked by a whirlwind of instability in the boardroom. Off the pitch, the squad is disjointed with its spine badly tampered with.
At Bullets, whoever hires you matters the most.
The Noel Lipipa regime has brought back Ramadhan at a time when the chairperson is not yet guaranteed his seat.
In the event that today’s Supporters’ Committee elections decide that the Executive Committee must also hold their polls, you cannot predict what will become of the coach.
Mabvuto Lungu, Swadick Sanudi and Rahim Ishmael got the chop as assistant coach, goalkeepers’ coach and team manager, respectively, last month for being seen as loyalists of previous chairperson, Sammy Chilunga.
Lipipa, as quoted by the press, felt that some members of the coaching panel were sabotaging the team. Life at Bullets is about suspicion and political correctness.
In short, Bullets might waste more time sorting out the boardroom when, with just two months to go, they are supposed to bolster the squad.
“We do not need to buy many players. Last season, we had a deep bench,” Ramadhan told Times Television during the week.
Bullets’ vice-Chairperson, Austin Kasito, admitted recently that the elections’ talk was ill-timed as this is the time for beefing up the team.
Goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe is out for trials with Chingale Tete in Mozambique. Defender Miracle Gabeya might be available after a last gasp-failed move to Highlands Park in South Africa.
But the major concern is that Bullets have lost a captain and a leading scorer—Chiukepo Msowoya, who has signed for Golden Arrows in South Africa.
It is never easy replacing a striker who scored 17 league goals last season. In Msowoya, they have also lost his experience.
A look at the other attacking options. Diverson Mlozi provides the trickery and penetration but not the finishing. Collen Nkhulambe knows how to position himself in the box but he is still young and too raw.
Muhammad Sulumba has been suffering from a crisis of confidence following that failed switch to Polokwane City in South Africa last season. Niyikiza Aimable has never been the same since signing from Mzuni two seasons ago.
However, veteran winger Fischer Kondowe has a different opinion on what might be perceived as a lightweight Bullets’ front-line.
“We have good strikers; Nkhulambe and Sulumba are good strikers. There is also Diverson. Last season, the problem was the combinations. Our combinations upfront were always wrong,” Kondowe insisted.
Ramadhan and Bullets might have renewed their love, but there is simply no honeymoon for either side.
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