In an ideal world, Dear Pain, one colours achievements the best way possible, be it by bluffing in public, hanging a horde of medals [gold ones, especially] on the wall inside one’s house, no matter how dilapidated, or using other means of advertising success to the world.
When one does this, they are colouring success in their own way, for there are myriad ways of keeping oneself in the limelight, even when the moment of glory is long gone.
In Malawi, however, especially when it comes to the senior Malawi National Football Team, the dominant outcome has been that of failure. Yes, that nauseating result one wants nothing to do with.
And, guess what, the Flames—those men who purposelessly run after the ball, sometimes turning it into their own net or often letting the opponent pass through the last line of defence with little resistance—have found a way of colouring failure.
They colour it by, for example, posing with senior Malawi National Netball Team (Queens) players on their way from an embarrassing African Cup of Nations (Afcon) outing in Benin, where we scored the only goal of the match, but ended up being on the losing side. Yes, the ‘scorers’ lost and the losers, Mozambique, won. How absurd.
Ah, there is a second way Flames players colour the act, read shameful act, of defeat. They shed crocodile tears by posting messages of ‘condolence’ to the nation for embarrassing loses they suffer.
In the latest case, when the Flames lost 1-0 to Mozambique after they lost 4-0 to the Ivory Coast in the previous match, the players, after posing with the Queens, did not show any hint of shame for their lame acts of late. The ‘boys’ have lost in four consecutive matches. The matches were important because they fell on the Fifa calendar, which means any tumble on the field of play is reflected on the Fifa world rankings not long after.
And, still, the Malawi National Football Team players walked shoulder high, as if losing countless times within hitting back was not embarrassing enough.
That revenge is one of man’s age-old occupations does not seem to register in them. What a cowardly act.
Surely, judgement is suspended when the technical committee is choosing players for the national team.
And, just to show that judgement is sometimes suspended when whoever makes decisions on who to don the Flames jersey makes the decision, one member of the coaching panel revealed, tongue-in-cheek, that the senior national football team has no goalkeeper, and that all they have been doing is experimenting— toying around with the three souls that avail themselves of the national team to represent us in those red, green and black national colours.
This, Dear Pain, is painful. But, as if it were not painful enough, senior national football team coach Meck Mwase seems as tactless. When the going gets tough on the field of play, Mwase wears this empty look, a typical case of a man who, in four consecutive matches that the tactless Flames have lost consecutively, was out of his depth.
The writing has been on the wall that, perhaps, Mwase is not the right man for the job.
But still, this being Malawi, there is no indication that the gaffer whose tactics have been exposed is about to throw in the towel. He wants to take the Flames to one of their greatest lows at the Afcon finals in Cameroon.
He does not even care that, next month, we will be celebrating the feat that it will have been 20 years since the Flames achieved their highest ranking on the Fifa scale. 53 was the position that made Malawi merry about 20 years ago.
Today, that feat has been soiled by the bitter experiences of the past six months.
When, today, we talk about Malawi being ranked on position 53 on Fifa rankings, some accuse us of abandoning the garb of reality and entering a realm of fantasy. I blame the Flames, Dear Pain.
Being ranked 53 is, surely, not a child of my imagination.
All I am saying is that the Flames are out of their depth, the coaching panel does not inspire hope in Malawians. All the while, Malawians contribute something, through taxes, to the Flames cause.
Maybe we should put a stop to all this [Flames’] painful story. Dissolve the Flames. Yes. The reasoning is simple: A team that does not know how to win is not capable of cultivating a never-say-never spirit.
Otherwise, if Flames players want to continue representing this nation, they must seek permission from Malawians to be losing without being accosted.