- Coach says it is up to FAM, people to decide
Flames coach Ronny van Geneugden’s (RVG) record of two wins, 10 draws and seven losses has prompted some football followers to demand his immediate dismissal, but Football Association of Malawi (FAM) believes time is not ripe yet.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu on Thursday said a determination on whether to renew or terminate his contract will be made next year.
“As per the contract agreement, a determination on whether to renew or terminate the contract will be made at least four months prior to its expiry in April 2019,” Nyamilandu said.
“This will follow after conducting an appraisal of his performance and considering recommendations of the technical subcommittee.”
However, asked when the review meeting will be held, FAM technical subcommittee head James Mwenda, who is also the local soccer governing body’s vice-president, hinted at having it after the last dead-rubber 2019 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Morocco in March next year.
“At present, I cannot say the committee’s position on the future of the coach. A review is likely to be done after the last game of the campaign against Morocco in March,” he said.
On his part, RVG on Friday said he believes his long-term rebuilding drive is on track, “but it is up to the FAM president, executive and the people of Malawi to decide”.
He said: “The team building process has seen new young players such as Peter Cholopi, Gomezgani Chirwa and Chikoti Chirwa coming through and, more importantly, we have brought in players from the Under-20 national team such as Levison Maganizo, Patrick Phiri and Precious Sambani who have shown a lot of potential. There are also more knocking on the door.
“The team is taking shape now as evidenced in the [2019 Afcon back-to-back] qualifiers against African champions Cameroon. The only problem is that we are not scoring, but we will get it right.”
Asked on what his plans for the future are, RVG said: “The short-term was about the Afcon qualifiers because I only started identifying my own players three games after my arrival, while in the long-term we need to intensify the development programme which will include drafting in some more players that have shown a lot of potential into the senior team and phasing out the old ones.
“So, it is up to the FAM president, executive and people of Malawi to decide whether we can finalise the project by extending the term. Of course, that is if everybody agrees with the way we are doing things, [but] if they want to take another direction, it is [also] up to them because I cannot impose myself.”
Asked if he merits consideration for another term considering the Flames’ results, RVG took a long breath and said: “I think yes, because what is important is the long-term plan which is bearing fruits now. We should not just look at the results, we need to go beyond that and see the structures that are being put in place.”
FAM has come under fire from soccer followers, including former national team players and soccer analysts to terminate RVG’s contract after he failed to fulfil some of his obligations to qualify for the next Afcon finals following a 2-1 loss to lowly-ranked Comoros last weekend. His failure to do well in the recent Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Cup has also been a concern.
Former Flames players Peterkins Kayira and Willie Cham’mbwinja told the media a few days ago that RVG must go as he has failed to bring the nation the desired results after claiming only two wins in 19 games, so far.
“We were told RVG was hired to help us qualify for Afcon finals but he has failed. So, he must go honourably. Why are we still keeping him when results are not improving?” Cham’mbwinja said.
Soccer analyst George Kaudza Masina said RVG has failed Malawi football and there is nothing good he has done apart from disappointing soccer loving Malawians.
“Almost all the current crop of our national team players is the same that former Flames coach Ernest Mtawali used. Although he still has a running contract, it is just fair for RVG to pack and go before he can do more damage,” he said.
“Let him proceed on leave as he is winding up his contract. I know that his salary does not come from our taxes, but from FAM’s allocation. Let FAM pay him off. It will be a big joke to keep on entrusting RVG with our Football. He was given targets which he has failed miserably.”
Masina said for the last qualifier against Morocco, the Flames can do with local coaches but not the current RVG backroom staff.
“I do not even understand what type of contract RVG signed with FAM, otherwise, he could have been fired long time ago; or if he was gentle enough, he could have resigned on his own after noticing that results were not forthcoming. Football is a game of results which RVG has failed to produce for the Flames,” he said.