Football analysts have attributed the Flames’ poor showing at the 2021 Cosafa Cup as a reflection of the poor standards of the top-flight TNM Super League.
Malawi returned yesterday from the regional tournament without a win.
The Flames drew against Zimbabwe and Namibia and lost to Senegal and Mozambique to finish Group B at the bottom with just two points.
In the last edition, the Flames had majority of foreign-based players such as Orlando Pirates’ Frank Gabadinho Mhango and Baroka FC’s Gerald Phiri Jnr who was named player of the tournament and the team went on to reach the quarter-finals.
This time, the Flames’ squad comprised mainly local players with just five foriegn-based players in Khuda Muyaba, Denis Chembezi, Ndaziona Chatsalira, Schumacher Kuwali and Tawonga Chimodzi.
On the other hand, Malawi’s opponents brought only local players to the tournament.
Commenting on the team’s poor showing, soccer analyst Kevin Moyo said the results reflect lack of competitiveness in the TNM Super League compared to the standards of the leagues of the teams Malawi faced.
He said: “Below par league means below par players. We cannot compete at the highest level minus foreign-based players. Whenever we have more of our local players this happens. Remember the 4-0 loss to Ethiopia just before the last two Africa Cup of Nations [Afcon] qualifiers against South Sudan and Uganda or have we forgotten already. Let’s improve the standard of the TNM Super League if we are to make headway at international level.”
The views are also shared by another analyst George Chiusiwa.
He said: “Performance wise and in terms of collective play, the team left much to be desired since it was clear that some of the players lacked mental and tactical maturity; they were also jittery and that they need more time to shed off some stage fright playing at the highest level.
“The team displayed errors like poor concentration, poor judgement, execution of the game-plan and lack of organised play, were generally as a result of inadequate game-time for some of the players. One would also blame the poor quality of the domestic league for the poor showing at the tournament.”
But Chiusiwa said the tournament exposed some of the players.
On his part, George Kaudza Masina faulted the technical panel for its tactical deficiency.
He said: “The Flames performance at Cosafa tournament has been a disgrace. The biggest challenge was fielding of players and substitutions.
“Generally, our technical panel were failing to read the games so as to make meaningful decisions. All in all, the Meck Mwase-led technical panel needs beefing up if we are to survive in the World Cup and Afcon finals qualifiers.”
But Silver Strikers playmaker Blessings Tembo called for improvement of the TNM Super League to bring competitiveness if the Flames are to compete at the highest level.
He wrote on Facebook: “We have talent, but we fail to utilise it. Let’s improve our league.”
Among the Cosafa member States, only the Flames, Comoros and Zimbabwe qualified for the Afcon finals in Cameroon in January 2022.