The curtain has been drawn to mark the end of the 2018 elite football season with TNM Super League’s top-five teams having mixed reactions to their respective performances and prospects of maintaining their coaches.
Champions Nyasa Big Bullets, runners-up Be Forward Wanderers and fourth-placed Masters Security have already flashed the green-light to maintain their interim coaches; Zimbabwean Callisto Pasuwa, Bob Mpinganjira and Abbas Makawa, respectively next season, but third-placed Silver Strikers and fifth-positioned Civil Sporting Club have not been impressed and the future of their respective current mentors Lovemore Fazili and Franco Ndawa, hangs in a balance.
Each of the coaches, except Pasuwa, was given a target to guide their teams to winning a minimum of two trophies but it was only Bullets, Wanderers and Masters, who came closer to achieving the feat after grabbing the Super League title, the Fisd Challenge Cup and the Carlsberg Cup respectively.
Pasuwa, who replaced Rodgers Yasin in the middle of the season, was assigned to win the league.
In the 16-team Super League, Bullets took the ultimate glory after amassing a record 71 points in 30 games, eight points ahead of Wanderers, 14 in front of Silver and 29 better than Masters and Civil, who were separated by a goal difference.
“Of course, we failed to qualify for the next round of CAF Champions League with him in charge but he has still proved to be a good coach. I can assure you that we are determined to keep Pasuwa for the next season. We will soon sit down with him to officially discuss this matter,” said Bullets chief executive officer Fleetwood Haiya.
On his part, Pasuwa, who secured a two-month contract in October, said he is ready to serve the team next season depending on how the negotiations with the club will be concluded.
“So far, I have enjoyed my short stay at Bullets and I am keen on staying put at the club. I am particularly delighted with the performance of some youthful up-and-coming players, who will make the majority of the squad if the negotiations go on well,” the former Zimbabwe national team coach said.
Wanderers chairman Gift Mkandawire said they would maintain Bob Mpinganjira, having turned around the fortunes of the team during his tenure as interim coach.
“You do not change a winning team. Bob has managed to turn around the team’s performance and results have spoken for themselves. If we started the league with him at the helm, we could have been talking about winning the league as well,” he said.
Mpinganjira only had one loss in the 24 Super League games he had been in charge before steering the Lali Lubani outfit to the Fisd Cup glory.
Masters Security general secretary Zachariah Nyirenda said after making history to win the Carlsberg Cup on their first season in the elite league, the prospects of keeping their technical panel intact next season are high.
Nevertheless, the future appears to be uncertain for Fazili at Silver and Ndawa at Civil Sporting. Silver general secretary Lawrence Yobe and his Civil Sporting counterpart Ronald Chiwaula said the performances of their teams have not been impressive.
Yobe said: “Our overall performance was not up to our expectation. We targeted to grab the Super League and two cups apart from reaching the quarterfinal stage of CAF Confederations Cup but nothing came to fruition.”
“However, we will take a holistic approach in analysing the cause of our poor form as we will look at the contributions of all the club’s sections, including the technical panel, the executive board, the players and the conduct of our supporters.”
As for Civil Sporting, Chiwaula said they did not perform to their satisfaction mainly because of the Ndawa’s engagements with the national team, where he was recently roped in as an assistant coach.
“Much as we gain a lot technically by having our coach in the national team technical panel, we missed his services a lot resulting in a not-so-impressive fifth-place finish yet we were fourth last season. We will see how to sort out this problem,” he said.
Chiwaula believes it could be better if Football Association of Malawi [FAM] liaised with the Super League of Malawi [Sulom] on the coaches assignments so that his national duties should not clash with his club engagements.
Ndawa said he sees no problem in having double roles at the club and the national team because “in life, anyone has ambitions and working for both teams helps not only to enhance my technical expertise but also make a good income to make ends meet.”