A house divided: Nomads players and fans drifting apart together

A house divided: Nomads players and fans drifting apart together

By Wonderful Samson

It has happened not only once this season that the Mighty Wanderers players have walked off the pitch after games, regardless of the result, without any gesture or acknowledgement to their fans.

On the opening day of the 2022 TNM Super League season at the Kamuzu Stadium, after their 2-1 defeat to Nyasa Big Bullets in the Blantyre Derby, the Nomads players cared less to take time to console the hearts of their fans devastated by yet another defeat against their archrivals.

With the blue scarfs still draped around their necks, the sulky Nomads fans were instead forced to look, with envy, at the cordial interaction between the Bullets players on the pitch, and their supporters in the F2-F1 stands. At the same time, the Nomads players, with heads down and expressionless, trodded down the tunnel of the Kamuzu Stadium.

 Nothing much was made out of this unfortunate scenario as it went unnoticed or was simply ignored. After all everything is awkward in defeat, let alone defeat in the famous Blantyre Derby.

Had it been not repeated thereafter, the scenario on this season’s opening day would have just been another mere moment of Wanderers players losing their heads after a defeat.  But on days of a different fate, the scenario has recurred, prompting question marks over the state of relations between players and their supporters.

In their last match against on Saturday, the Nomads won 3-1 at the Kamuzu Stadium against rookies, Sable Farming FC, but the victory still brought them no closer to their fans.

While the Nomads captain, Stanley Sanudi, who had finished the game with 2 superb assists, faced the media, the rest of his teammates trekked to the dressing room, embracing each other or shaking hands with the opposition players. Once done with the media down the touchline, the captain and the coaches swaggered to the dressing room as well. A number of Nomads fans were seen beckoning the team with both hands but the Wanderers players did not turn and look in their direction.

 Things are not what they used to be between Nyerere players and their  fans. The case was also the same after the disappointing goalless draw against Mighty Tigers at Mpira stadium. Apparently the enviable warm connection the Wanderers team has always been known to have with its fans is unfortunately getting cold. December 2020 is not too long ago when Alfred Manyozo Junior, then the Wanderers captain, was involved in a heated altercation with one of the Nomads fans following the Nomads 0-1 home defeat against Mafco FC at the Kamuzu Stadium. The captain later wrote the Nomads fans an apology through the social media platform Facebook and though the apology was accepted and everything was resolved, the relationship between Wanderers and its fans seems to have hit rock bottom.

Despite going into the Sable game coming from a 0-1 win over Moyale FC, the number of the Nomads fans in attendance last Saturday was disappointingly low.  At a club of Wanderers statue, a club with arguably the second largest fan base in the country, all these events cannot be looked at without drawing any concerns.

Questionable events can’t repeat in a coincidental sequence, something must be wrong.

When reached to comment on the matter the Nomads captain was reluctant to give any. The matter is likely to be played down by the Nomads officials but it will be contrary to the unfortunate reality we are observing within the club on match days.

It is an open secret in the world of football that a lift between teams and their fans can be of great consequences. Captains getting stripped of their armbands- as was Manyozo’s case, ticket sales dropping costly, and teams performance getting affected are the common repercussions.

After playing 5 games this season, Mighty Wanderers are 4th placed and 6 points adrift of league leaders Blue Eagles who have played a single game more. In their recent back to back wins, the Nomads have shown that despite their stiff start to the season they are interested in going for the title. Given so, for Wanderers to compete for the title this season then they will need to get their relationship with their fans up and running.

With the club still limping financially, there is need for a strong allegiance between the team and its fans to go all the way in chasing for the title. The Wanderers squad is still a project in progress for the new manager Edington Ngonamo and if he is going to make any inroads in forming a winning team then he must strengthen the connection with the fans.

The Nomads will play their next match on Sunday afternoon, hosting the 2013 Tnm Super League champions, Kamuzu Barrack at the Kamuzu Stadium and it will be interesting to observe how the new relationship of Edington Ngonama’s Wanderers and the Nomads fans will unfold, on this particular episode.

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