Malawi national football team (Flames) coach Kinnah Phiri has admitted that he was under intense pressure prior to Saturdayâ€™s 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Chad.
The Flames came from a 3-2 first leg-loss to beat the Chadians 2-0 to qualify for the second and last round of qualification.
“I am only human and, obviously, I was under pressure to deliver, but then I could not show it because the entire nation was looking up to me and the team.
“So, I had every reason to put on a brave face and believe that we would deliver,” said Kinnah on Monday.
The coach was subjected to a torrid time by a section of the fans who turned on him as the reality and pain of a string of draws became inevitable, especially after the 2014 World Cup qualifier against Nigeria that ended in a 1-1 draw.
Soon after the Chad game, Kinnah lashed out at his critics and described them as “stupid” in an interview with the BBC.
“The win comes as a timely relief because some people talk stupid things. They speak as if they were not Malawians. And those who speak stupid things can continue, but I will not stop helping this team to develop,” Kinnah told the international broadcaster.
But Kinnah on Monday attributed his tough talk to the heat of the moment.
“As I said, there was a lot being said by certain quarters. Of course, some of the criticism was justified, but the other was just personal.
“However, I have put behind everything that was being said by my critics and for those that were personal in their criticism, I have forgiven them. I will pray for them so that they realise their mistakes,” he said.
The coach also welcomed governmentâ€™s move to renew his contract as well as those of his deputy Young Chimodzi and technical adviser Jack Chamangwana saying it demonstrates faith in the coaching panel.
“Obviously, we are delighted with the development. Now, we have to switch our focus to planning for the final round of qualifiers.
“The draw is set for July 1 and before that, we will sit down with FAM to map the way forward, but I am optimistic that we will qualify for the Nations Cup final,” he said.
Former FAM executive member George Kaudza-Masina, who has been a fierce critic of the coach on Monday hailed him for the second-round qualification.
“I am sure Kinnah has now realised the positive side of criticism because it keeps one on guard. When people criticise, it does not mean there is personal hatred. In fact, in most cases, it is people that criticise who wish you well,” said Kaudza-Masina from South Africa where he is on study tour.
Said the former FAM acting general secretary: “Please convey my congratulations to the boys and Kinnah, in particular. Tell him that we wined and were happy for him after the result against Chad. That is how it should be.”
Reacting to governmentâ€™s decision to renew Kinnahâ€™s contract, Kaudza-Masina said: “Well, I think it is proper. His argument is that he is building a team and now he has qualified for the second round. So, I think governmentâ€™s move is justified.”