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Football Association of Malawi Seeks Foreign Help Amidst Criticism From Local Coaches

In an attempt to revive its national team, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has turned to the services of a foreign coach, a decision discussed with Malawi Government through the National Council of Sports and the Ministry of Sports.

This comes after Ernest Mtawali’s contract was not considered for renewal in June, following Malawi’s failure to qualify past the first round of the COSAFA Cup, in Namibia and absence from the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

In October, members of FAM agreed at a meeting held in Mzuzu, to hire a foreign coach citing better chances at improving Flames’ football standards.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”We have discussed and agreed that the association should hire an expatriate coach,”[/perfectpullquote]

former FAM General Secretary Suzgo Nyirenda, who left FAM last month to join the Council for Southern Africa Competition (COSAFA) Secretariat confirmed.

Regardless of government’s opposition due to lack of funds, hiring an expatriate coach was always an option for FAM who planned to re-strategize the replacement process.

“We have to reflect on the past and see where we have been going wrong when recruiting our coaches.

“As such, we will consult widely on getting views from all the players, including the media,” Nyirenda said in September.

While it may seem like an advancement in the Malawian football, there is criticism that the choice will not help local based coaches. To some local coaches, hiring a foreigner would not serve in the best interests of domestic management despite Nyirenda’s remarks that [perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”no local coach currently fits to coach the Flames”.[/perfectpullquote]

Recently, former Flames coach, Kinnah Phiri criticized FAM’s decision to hire outside Malawi in a local radio interview with Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS).

“Walter and his administration are the ones who are failures, but I have no grudge against Walter,” he said.

Phiri added, “To say there is no local coach who can coach the national team is not right and I am against people who don’t appreciate the good things and works that others do.”

In addition, Phiri accused FAM leadership of being clueless on how to turn around the Flames’ fortunes.

FAM officials feel otherwise. In the interest of the team’s development, FAM President, Walter Nyamilandu went on to defend the move saying it is aimed at building capacity of other local coaches to take over the national team in future, from a foreign coach that will be identified.

“The Flames couldn’t progress so as to realize our ambitions as a nation and we had to move on.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“The foreign coach will help in grooming the locals, it is not like we have dumped them,”[/perfectpullquote]

he said.

While Nyamilandu understands Phiri’s remarks are out of frustration, the association remains respectful to the former head coach who guided the Flames to their second AFCON qualification in 2010.

“As an interested party, he is obviously aggrieved that he won’t be given a second chance. So I understand his frustration. He had his time and we have lots of fond memories about his success. Unfortunately, his full potential was explored and he reached the limit. Notwithstanding his negative comments, we have lots of respect for him.”

Meanwhile, National Football Coaches Association (NFCA) general secretary, Benjamin Kumwenda acknowledged the association’s desire to hire from within Malawi but explained, that the decision and process is up to FAM.

“But FAM is the employer and the decision on who to hire is its responsibility.

“And if they (FAM) feel that they have given us (local coaches) a chance and we have failed, then we need to respect their decision.

“Suffice to say all the local coaches that are considered good and qualified such as Young Chimodzi, Kinnah Phiri, Jack Chamangwa and Ernest Mtawali have been tried.”

Ever since Mtawali was not offered room to return with little but no hope for temporary replacement, Swanzurwimo Ramadhan from Burundi, Malawi became a hotbed for more foreign coaches interested in the job, than those locally based.


Featured Photo: Football Association of Malawi President, Walter Nyamilandu defends the decision to hire a foreign coach for Malawi’s national team. (Nyasa Times)

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