As if an atrocious performance on the pitch is not enough, Malawi’s Flames have attracted ridicule at the ongoing Cosafa Cup after wearing an oversized and visibly low quality uniform that bear no national identity.
The Flames have been using two sets of makeshift uniforms—one red for home matches and the other green for away matches.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) was yesterday at pains to explain why the Flames are a laughing stock at the tournament for putting on the miserable and oversized Umbro uniform.
FAM commercial and marketing director Limbani Matola, whose department purchased the uniforms, is still in South Africa with the team.
Yesterday, Matola admitted that the uniform was appalling, but said they got “what was available” at the Umbro dealer in the rainbow nation.
He said: “It is indeed a very true observation that the current Flames kit is quite aged and has out-lived its lifespan. We are currently working on having a new kit and the process is at an advanced stage.
“However, with the Cosafa Cup assignment at hand, special arrangements had to be made to buy uniforms, attire and equipment for the Flames through Umbro as an interim measure.
“Due to time limitations, we had to settle for designs and colours that were immediately available in stock at Umbro.”
Matola promised that within 90 days, the Flames will have a uniform befitting a national team.
“The logistics on new national team jerseys are at advanced stage. The sample designs were done and duly approved with minor changes by FAM executive committee
“At the moment, we are at an advanced stage of sourcing quotations and deal packages from potential suppliers.”
He said FAM will also get replicas for the commercialization drive.
“The process will involve undertaking procurement due diligence to secure best value for the Malawi national team not only on pricing, but also on quality, trading terms and package flexibility for solid and sustainable business case as this is aligned to our commercialisation drive through merchandising,” said Matola.
Last hope for Flames
Meanwhile, the Flames wrap up their group stage this afternoon against Angola.
Malawi’s chances of qualification are slim since the maximum points they can accumulate is four.
Tanzania and Angola, already at four points each, face Mauritius and the Flames, respectively.
If Malawi beat Angola, they have to pray that Tanzania lose to Mauritius.
Even if that is the case, then all group members will be tied at four points each and goal aggregate will make a difference.
Coach Ronny Van Geneugden has said qualification is no longer a priority, but rather the team’s display of good football.
He said: “It is like building a house you start with foundation then rise high up to the roof. We are building a game plan which demands that we must start at the back and build attacks going forward while passing, but that has to translate into goals which at the moment is not happening. But we will work hard to get there.”
But analyst Charles Nyirenda said the coach’s approach is bewildering.
He said: “His fielding and tactics are somewhat puzzling. Let’s hope today’s showing will be better. The problem is that in Africa players don’t play football like robots and they are damn versatile. The individual skill levels are up there, but we have issues with tactical discipline, organisation, mentality and general psychology.
“My worry is that he [RVG] seems to have been briefed that we were far off in this region only to have a rude awakening to find that things are far advanced and difficult not only to comprehend, but cope with as well.”
This afternoon, the Flames will be without vice-captain John Lanjesi, who is suspended after accumulating two yellow cards.
Ian Chinyama is also ruled out due to an injury he sustained in the match against Mauritius. n