Football Association of Malawi Technical Director Marian Mario Marinica has taken a swipe at Flames critics and claimed that some criticism lacks common sense.
His remarks come as some soccer analysts claim that there was no need to celebrate Flames exploits at Africa Cup of Nations, where the side qualified for their first ever knockout stage as one of the four third-placed sides.
Marinica claimed that some sports analysts hate the Flames.
“I have no problem at all with criticism. It helps you to keep on your toes. But to say that the Flames achieved nothing and have qualified via back door is, first and foremost, an insult to the nation that felt so proud and united in the troublesome time the country went through,” the Romanian said.
“The qualification was hard earned based on the current Caf rules. We finished overall above Ghana and Algeria. We did that playing against teams that had players worth over 10 times our squad. These statements are a result of hate that does a lot of harm to the country and it is an insult to the supporters that were very passionate in their support for the Flames,” he added.
Marinica said one of the reasons of hiring a sports psychologist was due to bad press in the country.
“Every time these analysts are given an opportunity to speak, they talk bad about the team,” he said.
Clwyd Jones was hired as psychologist whereas Ged Searson was hired as data analyst.
Flames captain Limbikani Mzava concurred with Marinica, saying the Flames deserve respect.
“Some people are just jealous. It is an insult for someone to say that we qualified through the back door. It was not easy for the players. Some big teams failed to reach the Round of 16 but we did after hard work,” said he Amazulu defender, who missed two matches at Afcon due to injury.
Fam President Walter Nyamilandu said Malawian should take pride in the success of the Flames for reaching the knockout stages of the Round of 16 for the first time.
“This is historical and a huge milestone. We should learn to give credit where it is due instead of just criticising for the sake of it. This tendency of shooting down everything is detrimental and counterproductive to development,” he said.
On arrival from Cameroon on Friday, the Flames received a warm welcome at Chileka International Airport where several supporters braved the rainy weather.
Later, the Flames were hosted to a dinner at Amaryllis Hotel in Blantyre.
The Flames qualified for the Round of 16 as third-best placed team with four points, at par with Guinea and one point behind Senegal, who finished second and first in Group B, respectively.
Malawi started the Afcon campaign with a 1-0 loss to Guinea but beat Zimbabwe 2-1 in the second match before a 0-0 stalemate against number one ranked team in Africa Senegal.
After qualification to the Round of 16, Nyamilandu also told criticism to shut up.
Sports analyst George Kaudza-Masina said Marinica should take critics positively.
“Their success is our success. We give credit where it is due. We will not clap hands for everything,” he said.
During the tournament, Flames striker Gabadinho Mhango also made history by becoming the first Malawian player to score a brace in an Afcon match.
Overall, Mhango netted three goals at Afcon including the famous goal against Morocco in the round of 16.
Additionally, he was named man-of-the-match against Zimbabwe whereas goalkeeper Charles Thom also won the award against Senegal.