Ernest Mtawali under microscope


Some local football experts have questioned Flames coach Ernest Mtawali’s team selection in the 2-0 away loss to Tanzania in the 2018 World Cup qualifying match on Wednesday.

The analysts are of the view that Mtawali is not focused and lacks mastery of tactics.

The former Flames midfielder has kept faith in majority of players from Under-20 national team which he coached last year.


In the first leg match against the Taifa Stars, Mtawali gambled when he featured Miracle Gabeya at the expense of experienced John Lanjesi in defence.

Seasoned goalkeeper Simplex Nthala was recalled, whereas Richard Chipuwa was dropped. Nthala was guilty of letting in ‘a silly’ second goal in Tanzania.

During the game, the Flames defence looked jittery and failed to contain TP Mazembe duo of Mbwana Samatta and Thomas Ulimwengu.


Samatta and Ulimwengu scored to dampen the Flames’ hopes in the World Cup campaign.

On Sunday, The Flames must score three goals and avoid conceding if they are to qualify to the next stage and date Algeria.

In an interview yesterday, Chikwawa United director, Owen Chomanika, also had reservations on the Flames.

“All Malawian players are playing basic football and they are not creative on the pitch,” Chomanika said.

“It was a game we could have won had it been we featured players in good positions. I have also noted that we don’t study opponents before a game.”

In his views, former Flames and Big Bullets attacker, Andrew Chikhosi, also said Mtawali must blend experienced players with up-and-coming ones.

“He has trusted youngsters too much and it would be difficult for us to beat teams with top-class players. I think he should recall some of the experienced players that are enjoying game-time in their respective clubs,” he said.

Epac former general secretary and owner of Bucks Pirates, Roy Mdechi, also shared similar sentiments.

“We understand his aim is to build a team, but we need to be serious when choosing players for the national team. He is making the same mistakes in every game. For instance, he has been dropping goalkeepers after conceding silly goals, but that is part of football,” Mdechi explained.




In two games, Mtawali has taken a big gamble and it has never paid dividends.

Recently, the Flames mentor also gambled when he dropped to the ‘bench’ experienced Robert Ng’ambi and the Flames drew two-all against Swaziland in the Africa Cup of Nations last month.

Soon after the game, Ng’ambi publicly criticised Mtawali on poor team selection.

The coach was not readily available for a comment as went to press yesterday, but he has insisted that the door is still open to all dropped players.

Fam technical committee chairperson, Moses Mkandawire, yesterday said the association will wait for a report from Mtawali. The Flames were expected back yesterday.

“We have just engaged these people. While we apologise for the loss, there are also a number of factors that need to be looked at before we start getting results. Let me ask Malawians to be patient. The coach has always said the door is open. N’gambi was in the plans, but he had a knock,” Mkandawire said.

Be Forward Wanderers technical director, Yasin Osman, yesterday said change was inevitable in the Flames as some of the experienced players are past their prime.

“Mtawali is heading in the right direction, but he just needs to slow down a bit. There are too many young players. Some of our passing was not good and this comes from a lack of experience,” Osman said.

“The problem is with the transition. We need few young players and more experienced players so that the young players can eventually take over after a year. You cannot do it in two months.”

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