It is a fact that Malawi under-20 national football team’s recent 4-1 triumph over Angola in the Africa Cup of Nations’ (Afcon) Youth Championship has caused a buzz of excitement among Malawians.
The win came as a miracle, considering that the team was not given a chance to qualify for the third and final round after succumbing to a 1-2 loss to Angola at home. To win 4-1 in an away fixture in Luanda was, indeed, no mean achievement.
The junior Flames played six games without a win and they were on the verge of being condemned to the gallows of the competition.
But for some of us who have been around in this profession for almost a quarter of a century, we have learnt to celebrate such wins cautiously.
It would be foolhardy for me to blindly jump into this razzmatazz when I know pretty well that Malawian teams are very unpredictable when it comes to such competitions.
If truth be brutally told, we all know how heart-breaking the senior and junior Flames can be, at times, especially when our hopes are high.
It is not strange for our junior teams to win away games in a competition of such magnitude.
A few years ago, Ernest Mtawali assembled a formidable side that had the reputation of winning away games. They even won in hard places to visit such as Kinshasa, beating the Democratic Republic of Congo 2-1.
When we were all smiles with the achievements of the team, it became frustrating when it failed to qualify for the finals at the last hurdle.
That is how unpredictable the junior Flames can be at times.
The only time we qualified for the Afcon youth finals was in 1998, when Peter Mponda captained the team. So, it is pointless to celebrate anything below that achievement.
This team needs to work hard to break that record.
Playing at such a big stage would open opportunities for most of our players to secure contracts with overseas clubs.
But they should be told in no uncertain terms that there is massive weight on their shoulders as they have to shrug off South Africa, a country with one of the finest football academies in Africa, to qualify for the Niger finals.
This will be a different ball-game altogether. There is need for thorough preparations than spending hours singing hymns of praise for the team.
So, instead of showering these glamour boys with mere political rhetoric, the powers that be should do a lot to prepare the team for the forthcoming two-legged match.
Finally, my piece of advice goes to Under-20 Coach, Meke Mwase, and the entire coaching panel, Ronny van Geneugden inclusive, that spending sleepless nights thinking about the negativity portrayed in traditional and social media is a waste of time. You have no control over it. And it won’t stop.
All what people want are positive results. Prove them wrong.
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