Home ground advantage is a very tricky thing and it is the rare host who handles it well.
Today, the Malawi National Football Team, a.k.a. Flames, showed us that, even after close to 52 years of Malawi's independence, they are yet to learn the trick of handling foreign teams at the Kamuzu Stadium.
So, it was the same, old story: The Flames threw home ground advantage to the wind, gifted Guinea two preventable goals had the goalkeeper been at his best, and squandered their best opportunity to set feet on Gabon in 2017.
Well, I can understand why Malawi threw home ground advantage to the wind today. It is the coach!
Look here, the temperatures hovered above 25 degrees celsius at the Kamuzu Stadium and, yet, head coach Earnest Mtawali could manage to spot a heavy suit that forgettable afternoon. Probably, he did not want to 'feel' the wind that took Malawi's chances away!
To say the truth, the Malawi National Football Team did not tick this particular afternoon. Come to think of it, during the entire first half, The Flames attempted only one-- eer, shot? Pass?-- header in front of goal and, as luck would have it, the header was converted into a goal by one Chiukepo Msowoya.
The fans were up in the air as if they had wings!
And, then, The Flames blew the opportunities to go into recess with a goal advantage by allowing Guinea to score just when the fans were preparing to go for break.
That proved to be The Flames' undoing.
Maybe a word for the fans. Malawians do not know how to support their team, and only rise up when someone scores. Malawians cannot sing for their national team unless their is a goal or penalty. And the fans are, therefore, partly to blame for The Flames' dismal performances on home turf.
In the end, today-- and its forgetable business at the Kamuzu Stadium-- is gone. Tomorrow, the head coach should not wear an armor instead of a suit.
But, at least, you gave Malawians something to laugh about on a, rather, unproductive day for The Flames.
Malawi's chance of being party to the party in Gabon is gone. But nobody can stop the Malawian fan from going to Gabon to experience the wonderful feeling of being part of the game.