- Not moved with calls for his firing
Coach Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) has appealed to the soccer fraternity to be patient as he tries to turn the ingredients of his struggling Flames side into an appetising dish.
He was reacting to calls by some concerned fans that Football Association of Malawi (FAM) should fire him for poor results, two wins from 17 matches.
RVG stressed that there would be no quick fixes in his drive to turn the fortunes around and that Rome was not built in a day.
Responding to a question on Thursday on whether he is losing sleep over the calls, RVG said: “No, because when Malawi [through FAM] showed interest in me, I learnt from my colleagues that it would not be plain-sailing as there are some people, who over the years, have been possessed with negativity and jealousy that they do not look at the positives. I understand that has been the trend with my predecessors as well.
“So, I knew I had to develop a thick skin if I were to achieve my goals which are coming up with a strong development programme,  Africa Cup of Nations [Afcon] qualification and building a new team for the future by identifying young promising players. So, I am just trying to follow my contract.”
He said this was what was discussed and agreed with FAM president Walter Nyamilandu when he was offered a two-year deal.
RVG also reiterated that his plan to build a strong team for the future is on course.
“We have now come up with a group of players and usually if we make changes then it’s just two or three and I have a feeling that we are doing well. We have young players such as Precious Sambani, [Dennis] Chembezi, Patrick Phiri and Gomezgani Chirwa who have shown a lot of potential and we have others that are knocking on the door like Peter Banda. There are also players who were not in the team before such as Alfred Manyozo Jnr who have been drafted in and are doing well.
“The French are now reaping the rewards because they were patient when the coach embarked on a drive to build the present team which recently won the 2018 World Cup. Similarly, when we went to England for the tactical assessment summit of the Fifa World Cup, the technical director of Brazil told us [and FAM technical director John Kaputa] that they are in the process of building a team and the fans have embraced the move.
“So, if Brazil are being patient, why not us? We need to change our attitude and look to the future,” he said.
RVG also said he believes the Flames still have a good chance of qualifying for Afcon 2019 although some fans came out with their guns blazing following the 3-0 loss to Morocco.
“We are just a point behind group leaders Cameroon who have four points and we are only separated by goal difference with second-placed Morocco with four more matches to play. Why then, can’t we be given the benefit of the doubt?” he wondered.
However, seasoned tactician Yasin ‘Titch’ Osman said his observation is that RVG’s focus is on development while the national team is result-oriented.
“He is emphasising on development which requires that all the coaches in the [Under-20 FMB] Youth League as well as the second-tier leagues should be able to follow his philosophy and that means he has to drill these coaches to be in line with what he wants to implement so that they [coaches can], in turn, impart the style in their players and in so doing, the players develop with a particular playing philosophy. But that has not happened and as he rightly puts it, it takes a bit of time.
“The second part is that the senior national team is not designed to develop players. They [players] are supposed to be an end product and the coach is only supposed to work on tactics and formations and not necessarily developing players and that’s where the challenge is,” he said.
During a press conference held last week, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu threw his weight behind RVG, saying the Flames style of play has improved significantly and they now play a pass-and-move game like Barcelona although results are not forthcoming.