Kamuzu Barracks (KB), Malawi’s ambassadors at the Zone VI Senior Volleyball Club championship in Swaziland, started the tournament on a bad note when they lost to the host’s champions RSP 3-0 in the early hours of Tuesday.
But the match was not without drama as organisers changed the venue without notifying the Malawian soldiers.
KB arrived at the initial venue, Bosco Youth Centre, only to be shocked that the indoor facility was locked, lights were switched off and there were just two watchmen.
One of the watchmen volunteered to escort the team to Mavuso Sports Centre where the games were relocated to.
Upon arrival, the team was told to wait for three games before they could play theirs. That meant waiting from around half past eight Monday evening to about one o’clock early morning of yesterday.
Some of the players headed back to their team bus for a nap while others remained behind to watch the games.
Featuring a familiar line-up of the likes of Chota Mwenifumbo, captain McGodwin Mangani, Crosberg Makondetsa and Moyale’s Alfred Jere, KB were always the first to score points in all the three sets.
The Malawi champions led in the first set until the host caught up with them at 10-all.
By the time the game went for the first time-out, RSP still lead 19- 17 until they won the set 25-20 the second set, KB dominated the proceedings until the hosts took over at 10-11. Kamuzu Barracks fought back and led 16-14. RSP came back into the game and led 21-20 before Jere levelled the scores with a crucial point.
But RSP went on to add four more points to end the set in their favour. Kamuzu Barracks came into the last set with more vigour and forced the hosts to call for time-out as they trailed 11-5.
They re-organised and led 14-16, forcing the Malawians to call for time-out.
But matters did not improve for Kamuzu Barracks as they continued to trail behind. RSP’s combination of spiker Machawe Malindizisa and Bheki Malambe made the difference in the final stages as they conspired to garner more points for their side to win the set 25-23.
RSP coach Israel Magagula described the game as a fair contest, praising Kamuzu Barracks as a side with the potential to do well at the tournament.
‘’From what I saw, they would have beaten us if they were not frustrated by the venue and game changes. It’s sad that both teams were made to wait this long for the game to be played. If all factors were constant, they would have beaten us. Remember, they must also be exhausted after travelling for more than 2,000 km by road from Malawi,’’ remarked Magagula.
His Kamuzu Barracks counterpart, Omar Mtalika said he saw some positives in the game that he would take into the other game against Academica of Mozambique played last evening.
But his captain McGodwin Mangani and other team officials were mad at the officiation of Zimbabwean referees.
In his fury, Mangani refused to sign the match form until Mtalika intervened. ‘’We were being punished unjustly. The match officials were giving away points to our opponents for dubious fouls and offences. They even refused to allow us to register a protest,’’ Mangani lamented.
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