He rarely displays his inner feelings, but on that scorching Saturday afternoon at Kalulu Stadium in Nchalo, Chikwawa, Mabvuto ‘Tigana’ Lungu could not hide his excitement and visibly floated on air after guiding Nchalo United (formerly Illovo FC) back to the TNM Super League.
It was a defining image of ecstasy, a man releasing all his emotions in his finest hour of triumph, as he basked in the sunshine of success after finally burying the demons that had seen the Lower Shire giants stuck in the second-tier Southern Region Masters Security Premier League for 11 years.
The Flames legend and former Nyasa Big Bullets coach abandoned all the values of decency—fists clenched, eyes shone, mouth wide-opened, his twisted face an illustration of boundless joy.
This was after his team was awarded their decisive game against Mangochi United who failed to show up.
His voice straining with emotion, Lungu said: “We have been eagerly waiting for this moment and we are happy to have finally clinched the title with some games to spare.”
In the background, the beaming faces of celebrating souls also told a story of the moment—Nchalo fans exploding in a frenzy of joy in their fortress, the place they call home, amid a background of captivating sounds and sights so beautiful they would only have been fit for the eyes of angels in their flight.
For 11 years they had watched visiting teams battling in the top-flight league at their stadium. Now they look forward to watching their team and they surely could not be blamed if at all, they felt like flying.
Sadly, three weeks after that unforgettable afternoon, comes the news that Lungu will not be in charge of the team in the Super League because he does not possess a Confederation of African Football (CAF) B coaching licence which is the minimum requirement for Super League coaches.
Nchalo’s chairperson Peter Chiipanthenga announced that they had roped in their former defender Charles Manda who has the required qualifications.
“We knew that he [Lungu] did not have the CAF B licence so we offered him a one-year contract,” he said.
The Nchalo United boss said the story would have been different if Lungu had the required licence.
And now it is easy to feel sorry for Lungu as he will not enjoy the fruits of his sweat and one cannot help but spare a thought for the coach who also got the same dose at Bullets.
Perhaps offering him another role within the technical committee would have been an option but Chiipanthenga said they did not want to impose a backroom staff for the incoming coach.
Whether Nchalo made an effort to ask Manda if he could be comfortable working with his predecessor and vice-versa, remains classified information, but what is clear is that Lungu is the loser.
Apparently, Lungu is not the only, Northern Region Simama Premier League champions Karonga United, have also shown coach Dave Muyombe the exit door to pave the way for Christopher Nyambose for a similar reason. It also happened to Safarao Pompi who guided Blantyre United back to the Super League in the 2016 season.
At least, for Muyombe he has been reassigned to head Karonga’s reserve side “until he gets the required qualifications” while Pompi remained part of Blantyre United’s technical panel having been relegated to assistant coach.
National Football Coaches Association (NFCA) publicity secretary Aubrey ‘Mourinho’ Nankhuni feels Nchalo should have pursued other options to accommodate Lungu.
“Here is a man who steered them back to the Super League, for continuity’s sake they should have given him another role,” he said.
But perhaps after all is said and done, Nchalo cannot be blamed for the situation because they are not responsible for organising the coaching courses as that is the responsibility of the Footbasll Association of Malawi (FAM).
FAM needs to partly shoulder the blame for taking long to organise another CAF B coaching licence course.
While the association’s club licensing manager Casper Jangale said there has to be a two-year break before another course is held, it is now almost three years since the last one was held and apart from Lungu, there are others such as Lovemore Fazili, McDonald Yobe, Peter Mponda and Eliah Kananji waiting in the wings.