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‘We played well’ syndrome

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In a week Nyasa Big Bullets sacked coaches Rodgers Yasini and Elia Kananji ‘for failing to lose in 22 TNM Super League games only’ this season and 40 consecutively since July 2017, some fans on Tuesday clapped hands then took to the social media to celebrate the longest winless run in the Flames’ history.

The fans were at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre and they had just witnessed the Flames failing to score in a fourth consecutive game in all competitions.

Are club football standards not supposed to be inferior to those of a national team?

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On a day Madagascar celebrated a dream qualification to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals which Cameroon will host, some Malawians took turns on the social media to celebrate the Flames’ goalless draw against the Indomitable Lions.

Suddenly, the narrative has changed.

It is not about whether the Flames can, after collecting four points from four Group B games, qualify for the Afcon finals but about how impressive the team’s passing-and-supporting was against the already qualified Cameroon.

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Yet this was probably the weakest and meekest Cameroonian side that was without six key players and visibly came with hats in their hands, looking for a draw which they got.

Is this about lack of standards? How can a whole nation praise a team that has, in 16 months of the so-called rebuilding, flip-flopped from beating Togo 1-0 then lose 1-0 to Mauritius and go nine games without a win?

Two weeks ago, Football Association of Malawi President Walter Nyamilandu’s comparison of the Flames’ performance to Barcelona’s tiki-taka triggered a backlash. But now a few or none of the members of the public jury dispute this.

If anything, very soon the public jury would anoint their Lionel Messi equivalent from the Flames.

Have the Flames sunk so low so much so that their race for a place at the Afcon finals now has been reduced to a ball-possession contest?

Were Wizards not relegated while enjoying the lion’s share of possession and playing beautifully in the Super League?

Have standards for clubs such as Silver Strikers and Bullets become so high than those of the Flames so much that we really believe in the well-orchestrated propaganda of Chiwembe that the national team is progressing?

Are Charles Swini, Gabadinho Mhango, John Banda, Chiukepo Msowoya, Stanley Sanudi, Chikoti Chirwa, John Lanjesi and Yamikani Chester not experienced campaigners they should be peaking now and not tomorrow?

How can a team, whose one loss and two draws at the 2017 Cosafa Cup in South Africa were followed by one defeat and two draws at the 2018 edition, be said to be progressing?

Is this what money and power can do to corrupt the minds of the nation into believing that the national team that cannot beat Mauritius can qualify for the Afcon finals?

In the 19 games the Flames have played so far, can anyone really single out a game in which the team did not impress in terms of keeping possession?

How can, after a year and months later, someone believe in the sponsored Blantyre propaganda that the Flames are progressing for the mere fact that they drew against a Cameroonian side that was not good enough to win in Comoros?

You can buy opinion leaders and members of the ilk and call us prophets of doom that are so obsessed with negativity but statistics do not lie.

Just bring us facts proving that a team ever qualified for Afcon finals based on ball-possession.

I have heard this ‘we played well’ jazz for too long to believe it now.

In as far as senior national football team business is concerned, winning takes precedence over everything.

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