Blantyre, Malawi — The Flames succumbed to Nigeria¡Çs Super Eagles in what was dubbed the Battle of Blantyre. An early goal from France-based John Utaka was enough to sink the determined Malawians.
There is an adage that says it is no use crying over spilt milk. However, there is nothing wrong with reviewing a game despite having not gone in your favour.
It is indeed painful that Malawi lost that game after all the fanfare in the run up to that Africa Cup of Nations qualifier. What went wrong?
Everyone that saw the game either at the stadium or on television have his or her own ideas of what went wrong. Some of us think that bad luck contributed greatly to our team¡Çs loss. It is very sad that Malawians let in that goal after a goalmouth scramble. But save for the goal, the marauding Malawians trimmed Nigerians to size. Peter Mgangira in the middle of the park ran circles around the Nigerian midfield, which was led by the much-touted Austin ¡ÆJay Jay¡Ç Okocha.
The coach, Alan Gillet, was all praises for his troops. However, he thinks the Flames should have taken advantage of the home ground. He is aware that he will have an uphill battle to prepare his team for two away encounters against Nigeria and Angola.
All in all, the ¡ÆBattle of Blantyre¡Ç has been fought and the better team won. It is now incumbent upon the football fraternity to look to the future and mould a winning team. Surely, not all is lost. What would stop Malawians from winning the game in Port Harcourt, Abuja or Lagos when the Nigerians managed to win in Blantyre?
The game of football is tricky. The game of football is not without surprises. Malawi has a better record when they play an away game and we might maintain that in the Nations Cup campaign.
Let¡Çs not be blind of the fact that the Flames are still in contention. They have three points, one behind Nigeria. Winning the two remaining games would usher them into the Nations Cup Finals. Angola has only one point amassed from their game against Nigeria.
Yes indeed, the general view is that the game against Nigeria was a good game. Malawi gave Nigeria a good run for their money. Bad luck cost us what should have been an imminent victory. But we have to remember that you are only a winner after the referee¡Çs final whistle of the game.