Flames caretaker coach Meke Mwase has opted for direct football as Malawi faces e-Swatini (formerly Swaziland) tomorrow at Kamuzu Stadium in Championship of African Nations (Chan) in the first home game after the exit of Ronny Van Geneugden (RVG).
Watching the team training during the week at Kamuzu Stadium, the coach concentrated on drilling the players to quickly move the ball into scoring range, often using wingers or long passes and through balls.
Midfielders in the squad Duncan Nyoni, Micium Mhone, Felix Zulu and Mike Mkwate had a field day with full backs Charles Petro, Trevor Kalema, Stanley Sanudi and Gomezgani Chirwa who will be expected to push forward when on offensive, also joining the fray to supply balls for forward Khuda Muyaba and Chiukepo Msowoya.
RVG, on the other hand, preferred possession football also called indirect football, which is slower and uses many short passes, often sideways or backwards while looking for a weakness in the defence.
While proving effective in terms of ball possession, RVG’s system failed miserably in scoring goals. In his tenure, the Flames managed only two wins in 20 matches.
In an interview after the training yesterday, Mwase said, so far, he was impressed with the response of the players.
“As you can see everyone is in good mood. The players, the technical panel—we are all working hard.
“We have been working mainly on the offensive and scoring goals because this is the area we have been having problems,” he said.
Mwase challenged the players to come to the party so that the team can succeed.
“We will name the final squad after the last training session tomorrow [today]. It’s up to them to impress, otherwise positions are open to anyone,” he said.
Flames captain John Lanjesi said they have been adapting well under Mwase and his technical staff.
“Everything is fine. We are ready for e-Swatini and we promise to deliver,” he said.
Soccer analyst George Chiusiwa felt Mwase and his backroom staff have a good chance of accomplishing their mission despite the players having to adapt to their direct system.
“The final squad ahead of the game against e-Swatini looks good when one considers such aspects as continuity, consistency and transition in the team. Most of the players have been involved with the senior Flames team either as key or fringe players and it is an opportunity to build a formidable side from that foundation.
“The inclusion of senior players who have been consistent performers in the TNM Super League such as Khuda Muyaba, Chiukepo Msowoya, Zicco Nkanda, Gastin Simkonda and Micium Mhone is a huge asset since these players bring experience and mentorship to the up-and- coming players,” he said.
Malawi needs to win at all cost to qualify for the second round. The first leg ended goalless in Manzini, e-Swatini.