Just over 12 months on from a couple of late winners against Anzhi and Stoke Papiss managed to do it again Malawi3with an incredibly late winner. Hopefully this will lead to him returning to the form of his time in German and his early promise with us. I won’t be holding my breath though. So often with strikers you hear people saying they just need one goal to break the run, or one to go in off their arse to lift confidence. Well, Papiss had exactly that against West Brom last season, and it didn’t happen for him after, and the late goal against Anzhi would have done the trick if it was merely a confidence issue. I hope he gets back to form, be it here or at another club, as it is great to see him playing with a smile, personally I can’t help but think it will be elsewhere.
As for the game, I missed this match, and haven’t really seen to much about it so far as it was a busy day playing wise for me. But from the brief snippets I’ve heard it wan’t exactly a thrill fest. No real surprise given the way that Pulis has been setting Palace up away from home in recent matches. Still another 3 points in the battle for 8th place…. As for the game prior to this against Fulham, the less said the better. An awful display with the only bit of interest being Armstrong’s appearance from the bench, although why we only gave him 4 minutes when the entire side had been ineffective all game is beyond me. Also good to see Lubo and Aarons travel with the side. maybe if they can impress we may see cameo’s from the pair before the season is up, particularly Aarons who offers a genuine bit of width, something that doesn’t really exist, aside from Obertan and Sammi, in the squad.
As for the Everton match, well it wasn’t the worst performance, and I have certainly seen more one sided defeats, but losing another home match by a significant margin is disappointing. Minus Remy, we lack any sort of spark up top. I like LDJ, but if we are to pay the amount required to sign him then he will have to at least get a couple of goals before the season is up. Like I said when we signed him, contrary to Pardew’s statement of him being a goalscorer, he is much more of a second striker. Even taking that into account, his more recent performances have been below par, maybe a lack of confidence, maybe he is feeling the weight of pressure of playing for his future, who knows, but at the rumoured £6-8 million he isn’t showing enough.
As most readers of my blog will know, I’m not HBA’s biggest fan, but minus Remy, and even Debuchy for his crossing ability, he has to start. Particularly at home where in most cases the onus will be on us to attack. He can provide that creative spark, and whilst he was far too inconsistent and frustrating when we had Cabaye and Remy available to us, at the minute we have a group of players who are even less likely to make something happen.
Sadly, I find myself discussing NUFC less and less on blog and twitter at the minute as views are so polarised now that it seems that a lot of the time it resorts to insults of others with differing opinions. Incredible how an owner and a manager have caused such a divide of opinion between fans. Maybe that was the plan all along, develop a strategy that keeps the masses divided, and power with those who divide it. I still maintain that the door isn’t closed on either for me, if they made significant changes, but any lingering hope it might happen is all but extinguished. In Pardew’s defence, the sale of Cabaye and lack of replacement has tied his hands a bit in the second half of the season, but there are still various options that would allow us to play a far more attractive and progressive brand of football. Even if we were giving the youngsters proper run outs and losing I could accept it as we are looking to the future. There is little point of Campbell being a sub at St Mirren whilst we continually bring Shola on. I have nothing against Shola, but with him 99% certain to be leaving this summer, then surely Campbell could be given those minutes to see what he can do here. He is also the closest thing we have in the squad in style to Remy with his pace and movement (not in any way, shape or form comparing their actual ability). If Gosling isn’t going to be offered a new contract, then he is another that we should stop using. Again, Vukic is spending most of his time on the bench at Rotherham, bring him back and give him, or another youngster Gosling’s minutes. YEs, these 2 aren’t starting out on loan, so may well not be good enough, but they have contracts here for next year, so are more likely to have a future than players out of contract in the summer.
The Malawian government have given FAM a similar sort of dilemma; funding is only available for either the youth team to compete in international qualification or the senior team to compete in AFCON qualifiers. Whilst no decision has yet been made, in my opinion, the only sensible option is to give the funding to the youngsters to develop them for the future national side. FAM are trying to find a way round this so both can compete, but they are fast running out of time to secure the money. It would be a shame for the senior team not to compete, particularly given the quality of some of there top players at the minute, N’Gambi, Gabadhino, and Kamwendo are all top players, and would be capable of playing for a number of higher profile African nations, Gabadinho at 21 has time on his side to become a very good player, and is already proving a hit in the South African Premier League. N’Gambi looks all set to break the South African league and cup goalscoring record, with him now on 11 goals, 2 behind the current record of 13 with at least 9 games left to play. Not bad for a midfielder! His 7 league goals have him level with Gabadinho in 3rd place for top league scorer.
Whilst the male team has a huge dilemma, womens football in Malawi is currently celebrating and wishing the best of luck to one of their star players as she moves to Europe. Tabitha Chawinga, formerly of top ladies side DD Sunshine, (and scorer of a penalty when she last played against my team) has been signed up by a Swedish third division side. When we played DD Sunshine a year ago, we had a friend video clips of her playing. He manager then sent these out to various sides in Europe and South Africa to see if she could get a trial, and this is the result. Great news for her, and women’s football in general here in Malawi.
Personally, I have had a busy few weeks sport wise, and that continues up until Easter. Following my Gaelic Football debut, where my team came 2nd, we will be continuing to play on Wednesday’s. If you have never played it, I would recommend it to anyone. Tough work in terms of fitness, but great fun. Since then we had a BOB’s match against a local academy side, Lingadzi. This side are a fair way behind the Likuni academy side, but their fitness levels on what was an exceptionally hot day gave them a slight edge. We drew 1-1, although as their manager said afterwards the Ref was a little biased and we should have had a pen, and our disallowed goal should have counted. To be fair to them, they had the lions share of possession, but defensively we are pretty solid, and they found it hard to create chances, particularly when we sat deep and they couldn’t use pace and fitness to get in behind. We have a game at the lakeshore this weekend, and 4 of the Malawians who didn’t revolt will be getting a free trip. We are playing a Malawian league side as part of their pre season friendly calendar, so it will be a very tough game.
The following weekend sees me represent the EU in the embassy cup. After being snubbed by the British High Commission, the EU asked me to play, despite the fact I don’t work for them. We won a warm up tournament involving the German embassy side, the UN and the US embassy at the weekend, so hopes are high for us. The German’s and the US were favourites before, but whether that has changed now I’m not sure.
So, I will take in the Southampton game from the beautiful lake shore, hopefully we can put in a performance to match my surroundings. I won’t hold my breath though..