The Flames’ dream of making it to 2017 African Cup of Nations finals in Gabon ended last week following the 3-nil defeat to Zimbabwe but winning the Cosafa Castle Senior Challenge Cup might restore the lost pride.
With four defeats, four draws and three wins, Ernest Mtawali’s future with the Flames looks headed for a very predictable end going into challenging Southern Africa’s showpiece on Sunday in Namibia.
Truth be told, Malawians have completely lost faith in their team which has now been branded ‘Malawi National Football Problem” by social media critics following that shameful defeat to the Warriors last week.
But with predominantly experienced players, the Flames are favourites to clinch Cosafa Cup for the first time in history.
Majority of participants have travelled to the tourney with junior teams thereby giving Mtawali’s boys all the chances of winning the cup and in the same process, winning Malawians’ trust once again.
Let’s forget about Afcon exit, winning the Cosafa Castle Cup is the only thing that Malawians are looking for from a tournament where Malawi is the only side to have travelled with its best arsenal.
Mtawali’s future is in the hands of his own players who will kick-start their campaign with a clash against inexperienced Angola National Football Team.
Ever since its inception some decade ago, Malawi has never won the Cosafa Cup. The last time they came close was in 2002 and 2003 when the Flames reached the finals of the cup twice but went on to lose to South Africa and Zimbabwe respectively.
Since then, the Flames have never reached the semi-finals of the cup hence making it very difficult to expect too much from the depleted team.
However, records are meant to be broken, history is made not from obvious situations but rather unpredictable situations.
Namibia, who happens to be the host nation for this year’s tournament, stunned everyone when they won the Cup last year.
If a team like Namibia managed to defy all odds by claiming the top prize, Malawi can do the same.
With experienced players like Joseph Kamwendo, Charles Swini, Harry Nyirenda, Chiukepo Msowoya, John Lanjesi, Gabadinho Mhango and Peter Wadabwa, it will be Mtawali’s main priority to write his own chapter by winning the tournament.
If Malawi fails to win the cup, then we might as well conclude that this is not a footballing nation.
Our fellow participants have travelled with junior teams (for development purposes) but we have travelled with top guns hence giving us all the opportunities in the world to end our Cosafa Castle Cup curse.
We are expecting the Flames to topple Group B with maximum points ahead of Angola, Mauritius and Lesotho.
This is the time for the team to wipe out our tears. We have had enough but if the team brings the trophy home, our pride will be restored. It’s a battle of destiny.