Mario Marinica will continue as Flames coach even after the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) campaign, Weekend Nation has established.
Initially, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) announced that the Romanian tactician, who was hired as technical director (TD), would be in charge of the Flames at the continental showpiece in Cameroon in an interim capacity.
However, FAM technical subcommittee head Tiya Somba Banda disclosed in an interview on Thursday that coach Meck Mwase will continue working under Marinica.
He said the technical subcommittee will make this recommendation clear in its Afcon report to the FAM executive committee
He said: “The national team coach works directly under the technical director and, as such, Mario’s expertise will be fully utilised by the national team coach over and above the other coaches in the country.”
Somba Banda, who is also a FAM executive committee member, justified the move, saying the TD is overall in charge of all coaches in the country; hence, he is mandated to head the national team technical panel.
He said: “Remember, one of the KPIs [key performance indicators] of the TD is to instil a football philosophy in the country of which he has already identified to be fast and very fast in line with our strong attributes as a country.”
Somba Banda said in a short period, Marinica has transformed the national team which competed satisfactorily at the Afcon by reaching the knockout stage for the first time.
He said: “We saw Malawi’s improved performance at Afcon. Just a few months into the country, Mario was able to identify goalkeeper Charles Thom, defender Lawrence Chaziya and midfielder Zebron Kalima.
“In fact, he insisted that these players must go to Afcon when some doubted if they are national team material. We have all seen what Thom and Chaziya did at Afcon. We have seen what Zebron is capable of.”
Chaziya and Thom perfectly replaced injured captain Limbikani Mzava and first-choice goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe, respectively.
The Silver Strikers goalkeeper Thomwas named man-of-the-match in the game against Senegal while Chaziya was a pillar in Flames defence.
The trio has since attracted agents for European clubs for possible deals once the transfer window opens.
Meanwhile, Marinica has said he is ready to continue working with the Flames technical panel and players towards the fast and very fast football philosophy.
He said: “I am proud that I have been in charge of such a fantastic team. They [players and coaches] have been working very hard. They are wonderful.”
The Flames lost their first group match 1-0 to Guinea in which eight of their players and Marinica were unavailable for that match after testing positive for Covid-19.
In the second match, Malawi came from a goal down to beat Zimbabwe 2-1 before playing out a goalless draw against Africa’s top-ranked team Senegal.
The Flames qualified for the round of 16 in which they lost to Morocco 2-1.
Football analyst Charles Nyirenda said the Flames benefitted a lot from Marinica’s expertise.
He said: “It’s only normal that Mario should continue working with the Flames technical panel. Remember, TD is indeed above the national team technical panel. That is what is supposed to happen.”