Analysts have warned that the Flames’ performance in the past 11 matches is a crisis that needs urgent attention for the team to stand a chance of impressing at the Cameroon Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) next January.
Hot on the heels of a disappointing 2022 Qatar World Cup qualification
campaign which saw the Flames finishing at the bottom of their group after losing five matches and winning only one, soccer analyst David Kanyenda said that both the technical team and players are not ready for the Afcon finals and six weeks is not enough to rectify the problems.
He said: “All departments are misfiring, starting with goalkeeping where we have used three different players in just six matches.
“The shambolic state of our defence was confirmed by a dreadful own goal by the skipper himself [Limbikani Mzava]. The midfield has been dead and upfront we were dead.
“Honestly, the future is looking bleak and I am not sure we have enough time to redress our shortcomings given that we aren’t playing anymore competitive football before the Afcon finals.”
Another analyst Charles Nyirenda also had the same observation, saying the technical panel does not have the capacity to lead the team at Afcon finals.
He said: “There are serious doubts if the technical panel has the capacity to manage the national team. Just see what is happening six weeks before Afcon finals?
Nyirenda blamed the Mwase-led technical panel for failing to rectify simple things such as defensive errors two years after taking over from Belgian Ronny Van Geneugden.
He said: “How can a team keep repeating school boy defensive errors for three years without improvement?
“Then upfront we have similar problems. The team can only manage one goal and has never improved or changed approach.
“Worse still, why is it that the squad relies on players who warm the bench at their clubs? What criteria does the technical team use to pick players?”
Coach Mwase admitted that the Flames are in a crisis and that the technical team and the players need to take responsibility for the mess.
He said: “The players and us, the technical team have learnt something and it is time to work on it. The focus is now on Afcon finals.”
On repeated mistakes by some players, the coach had no kind words for the culprits.
“That has been the saddest part of the World Cup qualification campaign,” said Mwase before hinting on an overhaul of the team.
“A reshuffle is very possible. We shall assess all the players’ performance and come up with a new list.”
But Kanyenda felt it is too late for the coach to start making changes six weeks before the Afcon finals.
He said: “Those are our best players so we can’t change the team. But we can work on other areas of our play such as fitness, psychological conditioning and so forth through intensive training prior to the tournament. May be the new TD can offer some technical solace and help us turn our fortunes. For now the morale has hit the lowest.”
Cumulatively, the Flames have just one win in 11 matches since July.
Before the World Cup qualifiers kicked off, the Flames participated at Cosafa Championship where they lost to Senegal and Mozambique and were held by Zimbabwe and Namibia in July.
In the World Cup group qualification battle, the Flames lost back-to-back to Cameroon and Ivory Coast.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said there are tough lessons from the World Cup qualifiers with painful experiences on how the Flames lost some matches.
He said: “We did not expect to be bottom of the table or lose four matches in a row.
“We always knew it was going to be a tough road, but we planned to come out stronger. Unfortunately, we missed a chance of beating one of the giants. The loss to Mozambique made matters even worse because we had high hopes of salvaging the situation.
“It is a moment to reflect on and search our souls on how we will cope at the Africa Cup of Nations finals by building on our positives and correcting our weaknesses.
“But that said, I am sure that our participation in the World Cup qualifiers has not been in vain. The players have been toughed up and having tested the heat, they will come back stronger to impress at the Nations Cup finals.”
Malawi were drawn in group B of the Afcon finals alongside Senegal’s Teranga Lions, Guinea’s Sylli Nationale and Zimbabwe’s Warriors.
The tournament will run from January 9 to February 6 in Cameroon