When the 2011/12 TNM Super League awards ceremony takes place in Lilongwe on Wednesday, Alex MasanjalaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s name is unlikely to be heard as his Civo United finished the campaign virtually empty-handed.
After all, Malawi is not a land of football records, so Masanjala passes for just another ordinary coach. Little do many realise that he is the Super LeagueÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s longest serving coachÃ¢â‚¬â€a good 25 years.
Overall, Masanjala has been in the profession for 35 years, having trained most coaches and administrators, including Flames coaches Kinnah Phiri and Young Chimodzi, Escom UnitedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Charles Manda, McDonald Mtetemera and FAM president Walter Nyamilandu.
“I coached Kinnah in one of the national team assignments. The FAM president was also in my team at Sucoma just like Manda,” said the 62-year-old.
Up-and-coming coaches including Meke Mwase, Gerald Phiri, Dan Dzinkambani, Aubrey Nankhuni, Lovemore Fazili, Francis Songo, Gilbert Chirwa, Sammy Ngwira and Ernest Mtawali have also at some point been under MasanjalaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tutorship.
In recent interviews, Civo vice-chairperson Aubrey Kufeyani and captain Charles Beni described Masanjala as simply an amazing football teacher capable of turning a stone into a gem.
Manda recently said it would be an understatement to call Masanjala his mentor “as he is more of a father to me. He coached me from Sugar Babies [Sucoma youth team] to the main team.”
But like all coaches, Masanjala has shortfalls. His man-management skills are questionable. Some of the shortfalls are of his making, but others are due to accident of nature.
“It seems he does not have the luck which is sometimes crucial in coaching success,” said a Super League coach who asked not to be named.
The luck theory could also probably explain why Masanjala, who also coached Railways, Admarc Tigers, MDC United and Silver Strikers, has won few trophies with clubs.
CivoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Presidential Cup win in 2010 was his fifth in his career, but he has been to many cup finals.
The veteran trainer has also arguably never succeeded with a star-studded side, especially dominated by senior players. He lasted for a day at Wanderers in 2004 after fans protested against his appointment.
At Silver, he spent barely two seasons before crossing the floor to Civo in 2008..
MasanjalaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s weaknesses as coach were laid bare in 1996 when he was six minutes away from earning the Flames qualification into 1998 Burkina Faso Nations Cup while leading 1-0 in Mozambique only to lose 2-1.
“I took responsibility for whatever happened in Mozambique,” he said.
Masanjala, one of the few qualified coaches trainers played for top Zimbabwe team Mhangula FC. He returned home in the 1970s to Sucoma where he eventually ventured into coaching.
“What keeps me going is my passion for football. I read, watch and breathe football. I will retire when the enthusiasm is gone. Maybe I will die as coach,” said the veteran mentor who was once trained by England legend Sir Bobby Robson.
Of course, do not expect any special recognition for this man. Malawi hardly minds its football history.
Ã¢â‚¬â€Comes from Lipinga Village, T/A Mpama, Chiradzulu
Ã¢â‚¬â€Played as striker for Mhangula FC in Zimbabwe
Ã¢â‚¬â€Father of four including Civo United fringe player, George Masanjala
Ã¢â‚¬â€Holds over 14 international qualifications
Ã¢â‚¬â€Started coaching in 1977
Ã¢â‚¬â€Served as deputy coach to the late Matthias Mwenda
Ã¢â‚¬â€Worked as Central and Northern Region coach.