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eSwatini giants to hire Kinnah Phiri

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By Peter Kanjere:

Malawi football legend Kinnah Phiri is reportedly on his way to eSwatini, formerly Swaziland, where that country’s Premier League giants Mbabane Swallows have offered him a short-term contract.

Kinnah, whose last coaching job was at Mochudi Chiefs in Botswana, was not readily available for comment yesterday, but Swallows General Manager, Sandile Zwane, did.

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“Yes, we are hiring him on short-term [basis]. Actually, [we are hiring him] for Africa tournament as our coach is suspended,” Zwane said in a texted response to The Daily Times.

National Football Coaches Association General Secretary, Dave Mpima, Thursday said he was not aware of Kinnah’s offer in eSwatini. Malawian Charles Manda also coaches in eSwatini.

eSwatini leading newspaper, Times of Swaziland, has also confirmed Swallows’ offer to Kinnah.

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Swallows were drawn against Simba of Tanzania in the 2019 Confederation of African Football (Caf) Champions League but Caf suspended their coach Thabo Vilakati two months ago after reportedly attacking a ball-boy during a Champions League game against Clube Desportivo of Angola.

That Swallows opted for the Malawi’s all-time leading scorer (with 67 goals) is unsurprising. In his twilight, Kinnah played for, before coaching, another eSwatini side Manzini Wanderers in 1982.

Zwane alluded to these facts: “He is familiar with our football. He has a lot of respect among [sic] our players and supporters. He has a lot of experience in football.”

Kinnah sneaked out to eSwatini in frustration after then Malawi football authorities refused to clear him to sign a big money move to a Saudi Arabian team.

Eventually, Kinnah coached Manzini, paving the way for his appointment as deputy eSwatini coach. Kinnah returned home to coach Bullets in 2001. He made his name at the People’s Team as a prolific scorer.

Kinnah also coached Mbeya City FC in Tanzania, months after parting ways with Free State Stars of South Africa’s Premier Soccer League, a team that also holds him in high esteem having had three stints with them.

Kinnah hit the headlines a few weeks ago when he issued a press release disputing reports that he had joined opposition UTM.

He attended the political party’s rally in Mzuzu and announced that he was joining them, only for him to make a U-turn, saying he was a member of the Democratic Progressive Party.

Kinnah also told the press that the government had earmarked him for a post of football director.

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