Malawi football scouts have confirmed that the interest of South African clubs in Malawi players has reached its lowest ebb, leading to, for the first time in a decade, no exports in the just-ended January transfer window.
Veteran scout Ben Chiwaya confirmed that limited national team and clubs’ participation in international competitions and the Flames slump to 113 on the Fifa ranking are the cause of the disinterest.
“The enquiries are there, but the crop we have is not what they are looking for. It is now difficult for Malawian players to compete with west African players who have realised that there is money in South Africa,” Chiwaya explained.
Last year at this stage, Ishmael Thindwa and Ndaziona Chatsalira earned trials in South Africa. Black Leopards signed Dave Banda who is since back at Red Lions. Now Malawian players seek green pastures in Mozambique who are rated 114 by Fifa.
South African teams have offloaded Malawians such as Benard Harawa, Grant Lungu, Joseph Kamwendo, Moses Chavula, Chiukepo Msowoya and Banda. Msowoya and Kamwendo have signed for Mozambican sides Liga Maculmana and Maxaquene respectively.
Another scout, Kondie Msungama, compared the case of Malawi players to Mozambique and South Africa as apples competing on a market.
“Most people would go for the apples from South Africa because they are bigger, softer and sweeter. It is the same with the Malawian players. The interest in them is completely gone. There are one or two good players such as John Banda, but they are enveloped in a bad perception,” said Msungama.
Another scout, Felix Sapao on Wednesday said he was concentrating on football marketing as a representative for French firm, SportFive. He added that Malawi players lack international exposure.
“The biggest advantage Zambia and Zimbabwe players have over Malawians is that they come from developmental structures, including academies and schools of excellencies. In Europe and South Africa, teams look for such players as they master basics at a tender age,” Sapao noted.
In an e-mail response, South Africa’s Bidvest Wits University publicist George Mogosti said the fact that his team employs Robin Ngalande shows that Malawi has potential, but “the whole issue here is who are the spotters or agents that can identify the talents?”
South Africa’s Fifa recognised agent Mike Makaab attributed the lack of Malawi football exports in the January transfer window to the fact that this is “normally slower period of transfer activity than the July/August window.” No South African club signed a player in July/August 2012.
“At this stage of the season, most clubs have taken up their foreign player positions and will look to reinforce their squads with high impact players, who can make an immediate impact. There is talent in Malawi – it needs to be nurtured and the top players need to move into more competitive leagues as soon as possible,” Makaab of Prosport International said through an e-mail.
The number of Malawian players plying their trade in South Affica has been declining over the years. In the PSL, the number has since 2012 dropped from 11 to four with the surviors being Limbikani Mzava (Bloemfontein Celtic), Harry Nyirenda (Black Leopards), Ngalande and Robert Ng’ambi (Platinum Stars).
In total, there are seven players in South Africa football, down from 16 in the 2011/12 season. The decreasing exports coincide with the Flames strugggles having failed to qualitfy for last two editions of the Africa Cup of Nations finals. Msungama called for a fresh Flames start.