A disappointing 2-2 draw for Silver Strikers at Mulanje Park against Super League rookies Sable Faming in Week 10 was this Saturday compounded by a devastating 3-1 defeat in Blantyre against defending champions, Nyasa Big Bullets.
An away draw followed by an away defeat, at this stage of the season might not be so alarming to many a coach in the elite league but for one man at Silver Strikers, that sequence might prove suicidal to his job. That man is none other than Daniel Kabwe, the Zambian coach on a performance-based contract agreement with Silver Strikers.
Kabwe came into the match against Bullets looking to prove that what happened a week ago at Mulanje Park was but a once-off incident of a bad day at office but in a vain attempt to do so, the Zambian, from a tactical point of view, flopped miserably.
Over the years, Bullets meeting Silver has become an intense top fixture as the two sides have over the recent few years, created a duopoly in local football.
Steve Liwewe Banda, during his live commentary of their latest meeting on Radio 2 FM, compared Bullets and Silver Strikers to England’s current top 2 teams, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. With Silver in sky blue and Bullets in red, the veteran commentator may have been spot on on the traditional brand colours but on the field, the two cubs seem to be drifting further apart with Bullets by far the superior of the two sides.
Unlike in England where the team in sky blue, City, are a cut above the ones in red, Liverpool, it is the other way round with Bullets and Silver locally. The former have been flying high while the latter are struggling.
Silver’s mega signing of Kabwe was apparently an attempt to stop the dominance of Bullets and their Zimbabwean coach Kalisto Pasuwa who have now won the league 3 times in a row and are well on course of defending a fourth consecutive league title.
But since this mission kicked off at Area 47 in 2020, it does not seem to be taking any significant strides.
Although Silver have managed to win some cup titles with the Zambian they continue to finish below Bullets in the league. It might be said that in their journey to end their league title drought, Silver and Kabwe have at times reached near the well but remain far from the water.
Unfortunately Saturday’s 3-1 thumping defeat against the team they desperately want to overtake, may have convinced Thoko Chambali, Silver’s C.E.O, to start making some tough decision on the future of Zambian Coach.
After 11 games, Silver Strikers, in 5th position, now find themselves 16 points behind Bullets who lead the table having played a game more. Given the unstoppable form Bullets are currently enjoying it is hard to imagine Silver emerging champions at the end of the campaign.
Kabwe had success stories at Zanaco and Power Dynamos back in Zambia and he arrived at Silver with nothing much to prove that he is a top manager. Nonetheless, by penning a contract agreement with Silver Strikers, he knew that he was always going to be drawn into a head-to-head comparison with his Zimbabwean counterpart at Bullets. And Saturday’s result, just like any other unwanted result against Bullets, will draw contrasts which are likely going to cause grave concerns over the future of the Zambian.
Kabwe is trying so hard to stop Pasuwa and Bullets but the truth is that every method to do that is not working for him. If you arrived a little earlier and stayed observant before the Bullets-Silver kick-off at the Kamuzu Stadium yesterday, something was somehow evident.
Away from home, Silver had done a 15 minute warm-up whose drills interestingly followed the same pattern as that of Bullets’. Nonetheless, Kabwe’s Silver could not mimic the ferocious intensity in Bullets’ first half tremendous display which forced them to concede 3 times in the space of 10 minutes.
In the 13th minute Kabwe was stunned to watch Bullets’ fresh reserve graduate, Patrick Mwaungulu, strike a free-kick of absolute beauty which hit the crossbar and bounced on the touchline before going in. in the 17th, the Zambian watched the youngster send a terrific cross that Nigerian striker, Babatunde Adepojo, nicely headed home. In the 23rd minute, Dan helplessly witnessed his defenders, under intense pressure, handle the ball in the box to concede a penalty which Adepojo took calmly to complete his brace. In a space of 10 minutes Kabwe and Silver were swept aside and could not know what hit them, they were completed outclassed.
Before it turned into a rout, Kabwe was forced to pull out Flames international defender, Mark Fodya, in a substitution that also seemed like an admission that his initial game plan had embarrassingly gone haywire . Although Silver improved after conceding the third goal and went on to score in the last stages of the game, they were far from producing a comeback. 3-1 it ended.
At the end of his address to the media after the final whistle Kabwe, who barely took his seat on the bench but instead stood on the touchline volleying instructions to his below-par players, conceded defeat. “It happens in football. Sometimes you can make a plan that fails,” he said.
Looking at the league table and Silver’s position on it, Kabwe’s admission of failure may not only be restricted to the match against Bullets but maybe on the whole campaign. He might have just made an admission of losing both the battle and indeed the war.
Even at 11 games and with a lot more games left to play, it is unimaginable to see Silver close Bullets’ 16 points lead over them. It would take Kabwe and Silver some extraordinary winning streak while they hope and pray that Bullets slacken and lose their pomp.
Publicly the Silver administration has often reaffirmed their full support for the Zambian while expressing admiration of the ‘impressive’ changes he has brought to the club. However, the truth Silver won’t openly say is that they want a gaffer who will start winning them league titles. A one year performance-based contract they offered Kabwe in February despite that he delivered them the FDH Cup last year, serve but to reveal Silver’s hidden impatience to get their hands on the title.
A 2-1 defeat against Bullets on August 2 last year saw Kabwe fired and recalled after 48 hours. After yesterday’s 3-1 defeat, in the same manner and consequence of it, Dan Kabwe, the most qualified coach in Zambia may begin to sense that his future with Silver may be at great stak