Flames coach Ernest Mtawali has ruled out any possibility of quitting his job following the team’s poor run in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) which culminated in the 3-0 loss to the Warriors of Zimbabwe on Sunday.
Malawi will still finish rock bottom of Group L even if they win their remaining game against Swaziland’s Sihlangu in September.
It is their worst run in eight years in the continental showpiece as the last time they finished bottom was during the 2008 qualifiers in which they registered only one win and lost the other games.
In the current campaign, the Flames are winless in five matches in which they have lost three and drawn twice.
“I take full responsibility of the results and as I said, I am sorry to Malawians. But at this stage, quitting is not an option.
“As a captain, you don’t abandon the ship in the middle of the sea. I have the Cosafa Castle Cup task coming up [in Namibia] and thereafter, people can make their own judgements. After all, they are entitled to their opinions because they would want to see their team doing well just like me,” he said.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu on Monday described the 2016 campaign as disappointing.
“Instead of moving forward, we seem to be moving backwards, this is the worst it can get.
“It is a big wake up call to the coach [Mtawali] and the entire team because we are tired of losing,” he said.
The FAM president also said Mtawali’s future hinges on how he will perform at the Cosafa Castle Cup which is set to roll into life this weekend.
He said: “Can he rise up to the challenge and prove to everybody that while he has been rebuilding the team, there is hope at the end of the tunnel? The ball is in his court. We need to be seen to be moving forward and not in reverse.”
Commenting on the team’s performance against the Warriors, Nyamilandu said: “We lacked purpose when going forward and totally disorganised when defending.
“We conceded silly goals and made Zimbabwe look too good for us. Hopefully, we can forget this loss by redeeming ourselves in Namibia.”
However, Peter Mponda, who captained the side that qualified for 2010 Afcon, said the Flames have to go back to the basics in talent identification and nurturing process if the team is to succeed in competitions.
“Everywhere, football is expensive and there is no other way the Flames can afford success without spending so much money. If FAM and government are really serious to see the senior national team doing well, they need to invest in the junior teams,” he said.
Mponda said the current arrangement of getting blossoming talents straight into the senior national team does not help to solve matters but worsen the situation as such players are not mentally and tactically mature to handle pressure. n