In April this year, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu said in his one year in charge, Flames coach Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) has achieved what world-class coaches Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho could not have done.
“For someone who has seen the national team play, you can tell the progression in terms of organisation and tactical approach. You can literally tell that the team is being coached and there is a plan in place. The coach has only been in charge for one year and to expect miracles within one year [is unrealistic] because not even Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho would turn around a team like Malawi within a year. I think the coach has tried and I am satisfied,” purred Walter in an interview with State broadcaster MBC.
I could hardly believe what Walter was saying, because in football, one year is a very long period. Some coaches get fired after managing a single training session. So who is Walter fooling?
During his reign, the Flames mentor’s record is heartbreaking for an average football fan like me. Not only is Flames’ performance dismal, but we have failed to surmount any recognizable challenge at any international completion. We, as in Malawi, have been reduced to participants. We participate in tournaments to add numbers. We are, but a laughing stock. RVG’s 16-game statistics do not make good reading; 9 draws, 5 losses and 2 wins. This is inexcusable!
Yet this is a man Walter says will make Flames difficult to beat,” We need to come out of this group strong to prepare ourselves for the future. If we can get a win or draw it is going to be a bonus. We are rebuilding this team and as we are rebuilding the steps also have to be gradual; otherwise, we will crush and if we crush we will have to go back in reverse direction and to bounce back is going to be a big problem,”
If Saturday’s loss was not a crush, then what is it? Walter needs to wake up and smell the coffee. When we lost to Morocco, my Kenyan friend Fidel, basking in Harambee Star’s glory after they had beaten Ghana, described our Flames as a bunch of jokers. Fidel despite being Kenyan he knows Flames well. In fact, Flames used to be feared on football in Africa, not any more. Fidel recalls the days we used to pummel Kenya to pulp, today; he is having the last laugh, thanks to Walter’s RVG.
If you love Flames, you have to be worried. And if truth be told, RVG is not just up to the job. No matter his history as a great coach. His tricks to turn Flames luck around are not working.
We on the streets wanted to believe Walter that RVG is destined to be a great manager for the country. Sadly, it seems it is not working out for him.
Despite being a poor country, I know most Malawians are still proud when it comes to the Flames. The team brings us together. The team makes us forget about poverty, corruption, nepotism, and poor governance. We are not on world stage in Afcon qualifiers to make up numbers. We are a proud nation that competes. And compete, we have done before RVG came to town and compete we will when he leaves town.
So thanks for the wonderful tactics, but we want Flames to rake in good results, and to register some wins. It’s time to go RVG to leave the dugout.
It’s time to go Walter!