Our National Team coach, Kinnah “Electric” Phiri (they mistakenly call him the Special One these days) is surely among the best coaches the country has ever had. Taking the team to the African Cup of Nations finals in Angola was no mean achievement besides the poor showing at the tournament.
I have never admired the style of football our team executes because it just lacks depth, maturity and flair and that has made me put more interest in Kinnah, just to understand what he does to keep the team afloat.
Only last week, I separately bumped into two National Team players who tore their anger and frustration into Kinnah’s flesh.
The first one who plays for a Super League team from Lilongwe told me how lazy the coach is and that he keeps passing on responsibilities to his assistants.
“Auzeni anyamata apange pa push -ups komanso azungulire ground ka 20 ndikubwera” the player quoted one of Kinnah’s most used phrases. The statement basically means “Tell the boys to do push-ups and sprint 20 times round the pitch, I will be back shortly”. The player went on to say that “shortly” to Kinnah means some 45-50 minutes.
I have no problem with Kinnah’s style of doing things. So, whether he tells the boys to eat sugarcane as they wait for him, that’s none of my business.
However, it is the story of the other player that kept my inquisitiveness on the edge.
The player, who features for a South African club, explained that he finds national team duty hard due to Kinnah’s reliance on juju.
“Every time he calls me for the National Team he reminds me to remember bringing to camp some muti that is going to enhance my performance”, said the youthful player adding, “I believe in God and this demand confuses me so much”
These two accounts take me back to last year when I had a chance to speak to Kinnah and I asked him bluntly whether he believes in the use juju for his team to perform. He denied without hesitation and I believed him outright.
Use of juju or not, I don’t mind. The core of the story is how cunning the coach is and how he goes to the extreme when he wants to substantiate his beliefs.
I have learnt from reliable sources that all visiting teams have fallen prey to Kinnah’s tactics.
The coach will always connive with the housekeepers at the hotel where the other team is lodging so that they should sneak into one of the player’s rooms and steal a lotion bottle.
This done, the lotion is mixed with other concoctions and used to cast some good luck at the Flames.
My orientation as a child was that stealing is bad. But looking at the challenge that lies ahead of us on Saturday against Nigeria’s Super Eagles, I think we should encourage Kinnah to “steal” more lotion and do his magic again.
May God bless Malawi (the country), Flames and Kinnah.