The Flames will continue to face goalkeeping problems unless the country embraces modern soccer idea of having complete football players to man the posts, Fifa Africa goalkeeping coordinator Alejandro Heredia has said.
The Argentine, who was once top goalminder before becoming South Africa national team goalkeepers’ trainer, said this when Weekend Nation sought his views on why the Flames are struggling to identify a permanent goalkeeper.
“Malawi needs to embrace the idea of having complete soccer players as goalkeepers if the country is to be relevant in modern football. Nowadays, ‘keepers are not just goal-line shot stoppers but key players that command the goal area, start attacks and help control the momentum of the game,” he said.
Malawi has not produced a goalkeeper, who consistently featured for the Flames for at least two years since ex-custodian Swadiki Sanudi did it for three year before helping Malawi to qualify for 2010 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), the first appearance in 26 years.
For the two years, the Flames technical panel has changed goalkeepers several times due to poor goalkeeping that led to the national team’s conceding of avoidable goals during the barren World Cup and Afcon qualifiers. From March 2014, McDonald Harawa, Simplex Nthara, Brighton Munthali, Richard Chipuwa and Charles have changed hands between the posts.
But Heredia, who conducted the inaugural Fifa goalkeeper trainers’ course in the country few weeks ago, said Malawi is one of the very few nations in the world yet to have goalkeepers that are complete with dribbling, defending and ball distribution and communication skills.
“Everywhere in the world, both at club and national level, they raised goalkeeping standards. Modern goalkeepers make absolute difference to their teams by not only making saves but starting attacks, being sweepers and having good footwork,” he said.
“Apart from having their special goalkeeping training sessions, they also join the rest of the team for ball work techniques such as ball control and passing and supporting.”
The current Flames and Nyasa Big Bullets goalkeepers’ trainer Sanudi, who attended the week-long course that attracted 25 participants at Mpira Village in Chiwembe, Blantyre, described Heredia’s observation as an eye-opener.
“We have been lacking these useful goalkeeping techniques for a long time.
Even during my prime as a professional goalkeeper in South Africa, I was wondering how coaches conducted training program for goalkeepers. But it was after the recent course that I fully understood the concept,” Sanudi said.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) technical director John Kaputa said they will set a deliberate policy that will see young goalkeepers drilled in these modern football techniques so as to grow into complete goalkeepers.
“I will get recommendation from the expert after final exams are out on who could be better trainers to be involved in countrywide goalkeeping clinics with youthful players countrywide.
“I will allocate two or three qualified trainers to every city and make deliberate program for players to assemble at one point every weekend for such training. Goalkeepers need to grow with these skills from the grassroots,” Kaputa said.
Be Forward Wanderers team manager Steve Madeira and Azam Tigers technical director Robin Alufandika said as clubs, they also need to move with the modern times by embracing the new goalkeeping techniques.
“Our goalkeepers’ trainer Vales Kamzele attended the recent goalkeepers’ trainers’ course and he has already briefed us on this aspect. We have already started to take action on the need to have complete goalkeepers in our squad,” Madeira said.