The Football Association of Malawi (FAM) is playing down the ability of an expatriate coach to guide Malawi to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals.
To this end, FAM has said qualifying for the continental tourney will not be one of the targets for the trainer’s contract.
Outlining the targets for the coach, FAM technical and youth subcommittee chairperson James Mwenda said with the Afcon qualifiers starting in three months, it would be unrealistic to ask the coach to target the Afcon finals.
“Like in any competition, we would want the team to be competitive and what we have are expectations that the team should reach the Afcon finals. But that is not listed as a must-achieve because the coach needs time to build a team,” he said.
But analysts say Afcon qualification can be achieved with early preparations. Some have called for the speedy appointment of the coach, but in case the process delays further, other experts have advised FAM to set up a panel of experienced local coaches which can help lay down Afcon qualification strategies.
The Malawi national team has been without a coach since July last year when FAM decided against renewing contracts for Ernest Mtawali and his assistant Nswanzurimo Ramadhan.
FAM recommended to government to recruit an expatriate coach arguing that local coaches are not good enough to improve the team that last qualified for the Afcon finals in 2010.
But there is a standoff because government has stated that it did not budget for an expatriate coach casting fears that recruitment of a new coach might not take place any time soon.
Mwenda also said one of the key requirements from the new coach is that he must be able to discharge his duties as a coaches’ instructor.
“Our coaches lack some skills to be top trainers. We want the coach to be able to equip the coaches with advanced knowledge about the game,” he said.
In addition to that, Mwenda explained that the other target is that the coach should be able to establish a philosophy that would be enforced in both the senior and junior national teams.
“We want this philosophy to also trickle down to the Super League clubs where national team players come from. We want the expatriate coach to be interacting with the clubs technical officials on his ideas. The philosophy will ensure the players easily adapt to national team football style,” he said.
Football pundit Ben Chiwaya has said the best FAM and government can do is speed up the coach’s recruitment which can help the Flames to reach Afcon finals.
“There is need for FAM and government to speed up the search for the coach taking into consideration that whoever comes will need to adapt to the culture of our football. He will also familiarise with our local club coaches before getting into the real business,” he said.
Another analyst Humphrey Mvula advised FAM not to just bank its Afcon hopes on the new coach saying it needs to start strategising for the games now.
The Flames have been drawn in group B alongside Cameroon, Morocco and Comoros Island or Mauritius.
“We have a youth system that is vibrant and we have a technical director [John Kaputa] who is supposed to start preparatory work for Afcon. He should be looking at identifying players who the new coach can start with,” he said.
Mvula feared that the process of appointing the new coach could take long and suggested that FAM should appoint a technical team that can temporarily lay a foundation for the new coach.
“I understand the negotiations between government and FAM have not been concluded yet and I don’t think an agreement will be reached any time soon. Secondly, there will be a need for the prospective coaches to be interviewed. Then an analysis of the interviews will be needed to see who does well. This is a protracted process.
“The best step will be to have a three-man team that can include experienced coaches like Yasin Osman to work with the technical director on planning for the Afcon. We can qualify for the finals but we need to plan well. We also need to start analysing the strengths and weaknesses of the opponents,” he said.
Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development spokesperson Symon Mvundula said: “We are in the middle of the negotiations. So we have not yet set targets and date of appointment.
“When a final decision is reached and approved, the nation will be informed accordingly.”