One of Flames caretaker assistant coaches, Ernest ‘Wire’ Mtawali, is in a tight spot. His South African employers are reported to have asked him to choose between his new job with FAM or stay put at Mamelodi Sundowns.
According to a well-placed source, Mtawali, who works as deputy chief scout for the South African Premier Soccer League side which he inspired to scale great heights as a player in the 1980s, was reportedly summoned by the club’s management over the issue last week.
“Ernest was summoned by the club’s management in Johannesburg on his return from Namibia last week and was informed that they were not comfortable with his Flames role as it would affect his commitment to his scouting job at Sundowns.
“This was after he informed them that he is supposed to join the Flames again for the forthcoming 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Namibia and Kenya.
“They feel his commitment now is towards the Malawi national team other than his [permanent] job,” said the source.
Apparently, Mtawali is also scheduled to travel to Germany alongside fellow Flames assistant coach Patrick Mabedi this month to attend an advanced coaching course.
Mtawali could neither confirm nor deny the issue, saying he would comment at an appropriate time.
“That is a delicate issue and I wouldn’t want to comment. Suffice to say, when something comes up, I will come out in the open,” said Mtawali who returned to the country at the weekend from Johannesburg.
Asked if he indeed met his bosses at Sundowns over the issue, Mtawali said: “My Flames job is temporary, but there are indeed other issues that I need to sort out. But as I said, I will come out clearly at an appropriate time. It is an internal issue for now.”
Sundowns technical director Trott Moloto also refused to comment on the issue.
“I am afraid I cannot comment on that my friend. Talk to management,” said Moloto.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu on Monday said they were not aware of the issue.
“If there is something, then Ernest will inform us,” he said.
Mtawali is considered one of the best foreign players to have graced the Rainbow Nation’s soccer fields and he became the first foreigner to be named that country’s footballer of the year in 1985.
Apart from Sundowns, Mtawali played for Welkom Real Hearts, Bloemfontein Celtic, SuperSport United, Jomo Cosmos, Orlando Pirates, Hellenic, Ajax Cape Town and lower league side PJ Stars in South Africa.
Overseas he had stints with AS Bassano [Italy], Newell’s Old Boys [Argentina], Toulouse [France] and Al-Wahda [Saudi Arabia].
As a coach, Mtawali has had stints with Bloemfontein Celtic, lower league sides PJ Stars and Alexandra United. He also briefly coached the Malawi Under-20 national side.