While Malawi national football coach Meck Mwase’s internship in The Netherlands is a good development, analysts have questioned the timing as it coincides with the Flames preparations for the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Burkina Faso.
The Flames mentor will miss an international friendly against Zambia on March 11 and will only re-join the team’s training a week before back-to-back games against Burkina Faso.
Mwase leaves for The Netherlands for an internship programme at Dutch Elite League side FC Utrecht from March 6 to 18.
Football analyst Charles Nyirenda, who is also former Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary, said the trip was ill-timed because it could affect the coach’s assessment of players.
He said: “The coach is supposed to be with the team at this crucial time. The internship can wait. I don’t think an internship for two weeks is something that could not have waited until the qualifiers are played.”
Another analyst George Kaudza-Masina also questioned the decision to let the coach travel when his services are needed most.
“Meck’s trip to The Netherlands is a very good development, but coming at a wrong time, considering the Afcon preparations. They could have planned it at an appropriate time,” he said.
FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda confirmed that Mwase would fly to The Netherlands the same week that the team goes into camp.
“So, he will definitely miss the friendly. His assistants Bob Mpinganjira and Lovemore Fazili will be in charge of the team,” he said.
But, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu, who brokered the internship with Uefa, said the coach’s absence will not affect the Flames’ preparations as he will join the squad a week before flying to West Africa for the first leg.
He said the association could not afford to miss the internship.
Said Nyamilandu: “The internship is not necessarily clashing with the crucial period of camping. In actual fact, the internship and exposure is timely as we are progressing to the next phase of the Afcon.
“There is a need for the team to be well prepared and embrace new tactics to give the Flames a good chance of excelling.”
The Flames will next week face Zambia as the coach departs for Europe in preparation for the crucial qualifiers set for March 26 in Ouagadougou and March 31 at Kamuzu Stadium.