Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
SUPERSTITION and rituals have been part of football fans and players for a long time. But if they indeed do work, you can only wonder how many football results would have panned out differently.
Perhaps an African country would have been able to win the World Cup by now. But that they have not been able to do so even in the face of the Brazilian great Pele predicting that an African country would do so before the turn of the 21st century, means that you cannot really rely on superstitions for results.
Certainly Asian and African countries which have deep beliefs in certain rituals would have dominated the game on the global stage.
Of course, talent alone cannot always win you games – you probably need a bit of luck even in the case where you believe that faith can move mountains.
We know of teams that have been lucky to win a game or tournament, but no one believes it is because of some supernatural powers.
But the happenings on Sunday at Chambishi Stadium in Kalulushi where Chambishi welcomed Mufulira Wanderers in a Division One Zone Two match were disheartening – superstitions are still at a high level in the beautiful game locally.
Surely, in this era?
The match was a promotion decider and, as usual, the stadium was packed to capacity.
Both teams tried to outdo each other with superstitious acts but the match was still 0-0 when referee Vernon Nyambe stopped it with three minutes from time due to crowd trouble.
Chambishi assistant coach Fred Mooto started the ball rolling when he sprinkled ‘holy water’ on the pitch before kick-off and Nyambe gave him marching orders.
Mooto told the Sports Mail in an interview that the substance in a two litre container was water and he wanted to catch the attention of Wanderers players and officials.
According to psychologists, superstitious rituals can have what is called a placebo effect on players if they believe in them – in other words, if they believe in them, it gives them confidence but nothing else.
Well, on their part, Wanderers, the nine-time big league champions, did not use the main gate to gain entry into the stadium but opted to jump the wall fence. Further, Wanderers used the team bus to change instead of the dressing room.
Who would have thought this would happen in a high-profile game in the country? In any case, the mantra recently has been bola na Lesa (football with God).
Whatever the case, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) should come down heavily on offenders.
Zambia is a Christian nation and all the 15 million citizens, including footballers and administrators, should behave above board.
Modern football entails working hard, investing in players and getting tactics right if a team is to achieve desired results.
Superstitious acts belong in the past. Only hard work pays off.
We should not have those cases of, say, a coach and the team manager soaking jerseys in a bucket two hours before a match gets underway and players being made to put on wet attire.
It is backward behaviour.
It should be condemned like was the case when the Senegal under-20 national team used superstitious acts during the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations final against Zambia at National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka last year.
As we all know, the junior Chipolopolo won 2-0 courtesy of goals by Patson Daka and Edward Chilufya. Skill prevailed over superstition.
What happened to Bola Na Lesa?
Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI