Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has expressed disappointment with Flames failure to progress to the semi-finals of the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup after losing to Uganda 2-0 in Ethiopia on Monday.
However, FAM general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda has offered full backing to coach Ernest Mtawali insisting that his technical panel is capable of improving the national team.
His remarks came as the national team jetted in the country Tuesday morning through Kamuzu International Airport before connecting to Blantyre by bus.
Said Nyirenda: “Our expectations were that we would go far in this tournament, but that did not happen. Like everybody, we are disappointed.”
The FAM GS also joined a battalion of football fans who feel that the coach goofed by playing a second string side in their Group C encounter against South Sudan which Flames lost 2-0.
The loss saw Malawi finish second and picking a tough quarter-final match against the Cranes of Uganda.
“If we had played our strong side, I don’t think we could have been booted out. Without defending the coach, Uganda is a strong side, so we expected a tough fight from them. The best trick to go far in the tournament is to avoid meeting tough teams early,” said Nyirenda.
Nonetheless, he said the team’s rebuilding exercise is on track.
“We saw at the Cecafa that the coach tried new players that combined well in some matches. So, we are still hoping that Mtawali will take this team far,” he said.
Some of the players Mtawali offered first international appearances included midfielders Daliso Sailesi, Nelson Kangunje and Isaac Kaliati.
Mtawali said, despite the quarter-final loss, the tournament exposed his newly recruited players to international football ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) matches next year.
“It’s sad that we did not go as far as winning the trophy,” he stated. “However, the positive side is that I tried to build cohesion in the team and expose the players.”
Flames next Afcon assignment is a double header away and home against Guinea in March next year. n