Interference that comes in the shape of motivation could be among the reasons behind the Junior Flames ‘mysterious’ home struggle, The Nation has established.
The Nation observed that during home games, including against the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Botswana, notes from FAM officials, including technical director John Kaputa, descend from Kamuzu Stadium VIP to the coaching panel comprising coach Ernest Mtawali, his deputy Gerald Phiri, team doctor Enock Mwale, goalkeeper coach Sibusiso Padambo and team manager Nicholas Mhango.
On Saturday, when Malawi lost 2-1 to Zambia, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu and Kaputa, also stormed the dressing room during the interval to ‘motivate the boys’ who have a mountain to climb in the second leg of the 2015 Senegal Africa Youth Championship final qualifying round, second leg.
When asked about these observations, Mtawali while not pointing fingers, yesterday admitted that interference, including from fans who watch training sessions which are like an office for the players, affects the Junior Flames.
“We must be professional. I have Gerald Phiri, who I do not look at as an assistant, but as a co-coach. Then there is the team manager and goalkeeper coach. All these are coaches. It means we have eight eyes. At times, I feel it is disrespectful. I have never seen it anywhere,” complained Mtawali.
Kaputa admitted that he sends notes to the coaching panel, but insisted that does not amount to interference as he is always with the Junior Flames.
“In coaching, that is acceptable. During games, the notes do not go to the coaches, but the team manager to keep them until half-time and give to the coach. I go to the dressing room to control people entering there. In the dressing room, I do not talk,” claimed Kaputa.
Nyamilandu yesterday claimed that he uses his discretion when going to the dressing room depending ‘on the occasion and purpose’, arguing that he does so to give motivational talk.
“I do not go there to talk about technical matters and I do not go regularly. I do not think it [poor home form] has to do with officials going to the dressing room. The coaches should know the reason. It could be due to pressure. If they don’t like it, then they are in the wrong place. I am the president,” argued Nyamilandu.
Padambo also suggested that pressure could be the actual reason that affects the Junior Flames, adding that Nyamilandu only prayed on Saturday. In a recent interview, captain Brighton Munthali also cited home pressure for the struggles.
On Saturday, veteran coach Yasin Osman witnessed from the VIP the ‘invasion’ which he called as “uncalled for. Talk to the coach before or after a game. Doing so during games creates confusion. Only members of the panel should be there.”
As coach for club and country, Osman admitted to have also been subjected to such interference, but put his foot down. However, former MDC United and Escom United coach Dean Pinto has a different view.
“Basically, it’s at the discretion of the coach as this becomes a technical area. The coach has to be in control of his dressing room. Normally, other officials would only go in to offer encouragement if the coach allows,” Pinto explained on Sunday.
Football administrators’ national instructor James Mwenda last month told a workshop for Super League club officials at the Chiwembe Technical Centre that it was wrong for officials to invade dressing rooms.
Saturday’s loss compromised Malawi’s chances of qualifying for the Senegal final. There were questions as to why the Junior Flames have out of six games only won away; 2-1 in Botswana, 2-0 in the DRC and 1-0 in South Africa (friendly game).