The Maravi Post is pleased to give our readers a round-up of events that occurred during 2018.
By Lusekero Mhango
The year 2018 was full of twists and turns; from Water Nyamilandu’s sarcastic remarks likening the underperforming Malawi National Team’s brand of football to that of Barcelona, Nyasa Big Bullets regaining its dominance in local soccer with the Super League title, and to the Malawi National netball Team’s (the Queens) fall from grace.
The past 12 months unearthed sporting stories that dominated the news both on the front and the back pages.
Twenty-eighteen proved again that sport creates debates like no other fields and highlighted the passion stirred up due to what happens on pitches and courts, both locally and around the world.
Separating men from boys, was the undisputed theme for this year’s unpredictable season where some big guns were floored, while some minnows stormed the league with the biblical David bravely approach to finish on a high.
With 21 wins and only 1 defeat to its name, Nyasa Big Bullets made headlines in 2018 in the TNM Super League by becoming the first club to amass over 70 points in a league season as it scooped to the League title.
Claiming the 14th league, triumph came at a cost for the “people’s team” as coaches Rogers Yasin and Eliah Kananji, were fired with two months of season to go following the defeat in the semifinals to Masters Security in the Carlsberg Cup.
In the year of giant killings Masters Security FC made the biggest headlines when, against all odds it turned the tables to win its maiden trophy in its history. This was when it defeated Be Forward Wanderers in the Carlsberg Cup final at its own backyard of Kamuzu Stadium, and its run to the final, which included the semifinal win over Nyasa Big Bullets on spot kicks.
Rookies Karonga United and TN Stars, achieved their ultimate aim of survival in the Elite League and with that, the League waved goodbye to two military outfits in MAGACO FC and Red Lions who were relegated.
Be Forward Wanderers claimed the last trophy on offer in December, in the most thrilling cup final in years, when it defeated Silver Strikers, 3-2 in the FISD Cup finals. With the defeat Silver Strikers ended the year without any silverware.
Whilst clubs were thriving on the domestic club scene, the Malawi National Team, Flames, had a year to forget, going the entire calendar-year winless, ending the year on slot 130 in the FIFA world rankings, which is 6 steps down from where it was in January 2018.
The winless run in the process seeing the Flames’ 2019 dreams of qualifying for the AFCON go in flames.
However, the biggest headline for the national team, was made off the field when Football Association of Malawi (FAM) President Walter Nyamilandu, following wide-spread criticism from the Malawi sports fans over the Flames results and the overwhelming poor performances of the Flames’ Belgian Coach Ronny Van Genuegden.
Nyamilandu likened the National Team’s football playing style to that of the five-time European champions Barcelona in a stormy press conference in October.
On the other hand, the Malawi National Netball Team, the Queens, had an up and down year that saw it over-taken by Uganda as Africa’s number one side, however the Queens, who were for the majority of the year without its star shooter, Mwai Kumwenda due to injury, finished fifth in the fast five series in Australia. This included a headline win over reigning Commonwealth gold medalists England, which qualified the team for the 2019 World Netball Series in Liverpool, England.
In international sports the 2018 major events were the Winter Olympics, held in Pyeongchang in South Korea, the Commonwealth Games in Australia, and the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
France were the 2018 World Cup champions with 11 goals in four knockout matches, and its second title in 20 years. This was no mean fete for a side cast before the tournament as a ghost in a shell and a squad full of talent that was underperforming 2018 in sports.