TIMAU: Political football cup finals on Aug 17

By Sembe Gondwe

SATIRE: Malawi national select takes on the Republic of Malawi on 17th August in what soccer pundits have dubbed: Mother of all cup finals. The first leg played on 20th July ended in goalless draw.

Chairman and manager of Republic of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika, and told reporters at a press briefing that his players are ready for the game. “All players are fit and we have had strength testing matches in which we did very well,” said Bingu referring to a friendly match they played against Plan International at Matuli in Mzimba.

On 20th July, Republic of Malawi was so slow in terms of organisation. They didn’t have an instinctive understanding of space and Malawi select were better in this area, in view of this, Bingu has made some changes in his line up to the one that played on 20th July. In a friendly against Plan International, in Mzimba, Bingu used a 1-5-4 formation with fast improving Calista Mutharika playing as a lone striker. MBC’s Bright Malopa was used as an attacking midfielder as opposed to the role he played on 20ThJuly were he played as a holding midfielder.

Lawyer Ralph Kasambara during the July 20 demo

In defence, Bingu has dropped General Mark Chidziko and brought in Army’s new signing, General Henry Odilo.

Odilo is likely to play alongside Captain of Republic of Malawi, Peter Mukhito and Goodall Gondwe, who fired a word of warning to Malawi Select on Twitter by saying “Boma ndi Boma”.

Bingu has also brought in Brian Bowler, who plays for Foreign Services to strengthen his midfield.

Missing on the Republic of Malawi line-up is Patricia Kaliati, who is recovering from a knee injury she sustained in May 2009 when Republic of Malawi was playing The Opposition.

“Malawi select is a good team and if they will be no violence, fans should expect a good game,” Bingu told reporters.

In the meantime, Malawi select remain unshaken. Acting Manager, Rafiq Hajat said that they are expected to use the same team that played on 20th July.  The most improved striker of political football, Robert Nkwezalamba is likely to lead the scoring machine of Malawi select. John Gift Mwakhwawa has also been drafted in the squad and is going to play alongside Ralph Kasambara in midfield.

Undule Mwakasungula and Nancy Tembo who were badly attacked by Mukhito on 20th July are both fit and Hajat said that Undule will start in goals for Malawi Select.

Said Hajat, “We have written FIFA about rough tactics (Peter) Mukhito used on 20th July”. FIFA have so far said that they are still looking at the match commissioner’s report before they make any decision on Mukhito.

Bingu complained that Malawi select used unregistered players on 20th July such as Joyce Banda and John Tembo. Hajat called Bingu’s claims as nonsense, “anyone can play for Malawi select, you don’t have to be registered, FIFA is aware of this rule”.

Malawi select are two time winners of the cup and they are the only team in Southern Africa to have achieved this. They beat Kamuzu Banda led Republic of Malawi 4-0 in 1993 and they also beat Bakili Muluzi led Republic of Malawi/open term bill in 2003.

For now, Bingu has issued a strong message to Malawi select, “I will hunt you and I will find you”, said Bingu in a 25 minute address. Malawi select is not traumatized by Bingu’s warnings, said Hajat,”Bingu should put his house in order first instead of issuing warnings to us”.

The game has attracted the attention of many countries, “The UK does not take partisan role in Malawi politics. I call on all parties to exercise restraint over the coming days”, said William Hague, the British foreign secretary.

In view of this big game, the United Nations in Lilongwe has told its workers not to report for duties and to remain indoors.

The Football association of Malawi (FAM) has said that the game will be free as government has already paid for supporters to watch the game free. Gates will be opened at 8.am and that is according to FAM spokesperson.

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