Malawi Defence Force (MDF) teams, which were once a force to reckon with, have fallen from grace and face relegation in TNM Super League, a development football analysts have attributed to frequent change of coaches and squads due to peace-keeping missions.
While accepting that they miss the services of some players who go for United Nations (UN) peace-keeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the four teams—Moyale Barracks, Kamuzu Barracks, Mafco and Red Lions—said this cannot be an excuse for the current spell of poor performance.
All the four MDF teams are possible candidates for relegation and soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda observed that behind the MDF teams’ poor performance lies a common problem.
“They have been rotating the same coaches over and over again. I think they have got it all wrong. Their team’s inconsistency has nothing to do with coaches. If at all it has, it’s less than 10 percent, the other 90 percent could be due to frequent change of squads as players go for peace keeping missions,” he said.
MDF main team Red Lions are deep in relegation zone as they lie on position 13 with 28 points from 25 games and were playing Karonga United yesterday.
But vice-chairperson Dave Jones Gondwe said peace-keeping missions have nothing to do with the team’s poor form.
“For us we have a full squad. All our players are back from peace-keeping missions. It also has nothing to do with motivation because our players are much better motivated than other Super League teams. I think other Super League teams prepared well than us this season,” he said.
Salima-based Mafco are also facing the chop as they perch on position 15 just above bottom placed Nchalo United, with 21 points from 25 games at the time they were playing TN Stars yesterday.
Mafco chairperson Emmanuel Chaononga, while accepting that they miss players on peace keeping mission, said this is not entirely the reason behind the poor form.
“Of course, peacekeeping is on rotation and if you contribute four players like we have done now, you might be affected. But this has been happening for a several years but, still army teams were doing well and even winning cups. So, we can’t blame everything on peace-keeping mission,” he said.
Asked what is the reason behind Mafco’s poor form, Chaononga said the team did not start well in first round and it was paying the price.
“Just like in war, you plan well and try to execute your strategy, but there are always elements of resistance. For us it’s a big concern because we have been in relegation zone since first-round and it is becoming difficult to get out of there. It could just be a bad spell but we are sure that by end of the season we will survive,” he said.
Just two years ago, Kamuzu Barracks became the first ever MDF side to win the TNM Super League.
But now they are not even a mid-table team as they lie on position 10 and were playing Blue Eagles as we went to press yesterday.
“It’s a big problem. All army teams are indeed struggling in the league. But I don’t think it has anything to do with peace keeping missions at all. A club registers between 25 and 30 players and if five go for peace-keeping, that should not be an excuse—the others can replace them,” said Kamuzu Barracks chairperson Major Mhango.
KB changed coaches bringing in Temwa Msuku to replace suspended Billy Phambala, but the team’s performance has still stagnated and, Mhango believes this has contributed to the team’s poor performance.
“I think the frequent change of coaches has had an effect on our performance. We thought by changing coaches we could see change but nothing has happened. We have since called for an extra-ordinary general meeting [EGM] to discuss the team’s performance,” he said.
Moyale Barracks are the best performer among the MDF teams as they perch on position nine with 31 points from 26 games. They have won seven, lost nine and drawn 10. They face Silver Strikers this afternoon.