Malawi football fans disappointed with Africa’s early World Cup exit 

Malawi national football team continue to fail to qualify for their first-ever FIFA World Cup finals but even for all this disappointment, Malawian fans always rally behind all the African representatives and it was the same for this edition through Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Senegal.

Senegal eliminated by fair play rule after 1-0 loss to Colombia .
Senegalese supporters watch the Russia 2018 World Cup on big screen

It’s a sense of continental solidarity or if you can’t beat them, join them.

Now that all the African teams are out of the world’s greatest football showpiece, the first time that all African teams exited the World Cup at the group stage since the Spain  1982 edition — some 36 years ago — some Malawians fans are suggesting that maybe they can rally for France and England since they both have many players of African origin.

Sau Nakhumwa says England are slowly starting to look African through Danny Rose, Rashford,  Kel Walker,  Rehim Sterling,  Danny Welbeck, Alexander Arnold, Dele Ali, Ashley  Young, Jessy  Lingaard, Reuben Loftus-Cheek, Damien Delph — quite a long list just like that of France.

This suggestion to turn the support to France and England is to appease themselves after all the African teams have bowed out.

Most painful was Senegal’s fate in which they needed to beat Colombia or draw in their last group game on Wednesday but they lost. Senegal and Japan were tied at four points apiece when the Japanese lost to Poland the same Wednesday.

And the bitter part is that Senegal were declared out on  the grounds of fair play after they tied on everything except that Japan had less cautions (yellow cards) than Senegal — begging the question from most Malawians: “why weren’t they asked to play penalties?”

“It’s very unfortunate but Senegal should have won against Japan in their second group game after beating Poland,” said Frackson Helani. “Senegal lost in that game though they drew because it came back to haunt them bexause they went on to lose to Colombia.”

Much as all hopes were on Senegal, to see if they could replicate what they produced in the Japan/Korea 2002 edition in which they reached the knockout stage after even helping to oust the  champions France, other fans believe this was an inexperienced side.

“They created many good chances which they fluffed and I think it’s because, much as most of them play in top European clubs and are supposed to on top of their game, they haven’t been together as a national team for very long,” said Talimba Mwalwanda.

“Their star players don´t generally produce as expected under the national banner just as the other African teams, Nigeria, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. I think it’s a case of wrong fielding.

“For instance, Nigeria first game against Croatia, they used Mikel Obi as an attacking midfielder instead of a holding one and also benched Ahmed Musa, who rose to the occasion and scored both goals in their win of the match against Iceland,” Mwalwanda said.

Another fan Ken Msonthi said: “Senegal should maintain that team and their coach Alou Cissie. They have a very good coach who has very good young talented players like Wague, Balde, Kouyate, Mane, Sabaly, Ndiaye, Coulibaly and Ismaila. The squad has the potential for the next World Cup.”

Most Africans’ hope on Morocco was because of their coach, Herve Renald, who steered Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire to win the Africa Cup of Nations. It was back to back achievement for Renard and when Morocco roped him in, all eyes were on him.

He seemed to be on the right track when he led the Atlas Lions to become the first African team to qualify for the Russia 2018 edition.

But in a group in which they were with Spain, Portugal and Iran, they lost all three games.

And that has suddenly jerked up Malawians because the Flames date the Atlas Lions for the 2022 World Cup qualifier just this September.

“Malawi date Morocco just around the corner in September,  but what are we doing about it,” questioned Joseph Makandanje. “We are busy watching Morocco at the World Cup but are we learning anything from their tactics?”

To which someone alluded that the Atlas Lions will definitely vent their frustrations of the World Cup on the Flames.

But Ndirande-based David Musa is optimistic when he says: “We may lose the away game but here at home [with all the support from fans] I believe the worst shal be a draw. Don’t forget that we managed to beat Egypt here during the 2010 AFCON.”

What a World Cup it had been that has seen all African teams failing to reach the knockout stages in 36 years as well as the curse of the champions coming to haunt again in which Germany got eliminated in the group stages, the first time ever.

But they are not the first — in 1998 France won it  but were eliminated in the group stages in 2002. In 2006, Italy won it but got knocked out in group stages in 2010.

Spain took centre stage when they lifted it in 2010 in South Africa but the champions curse haunted them as well in 2014, won by Germany.

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