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‘Forget Afcon’

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National Coaches Association General Secretary, Benjamin Kumwenda, has weighed in on the debate over the calibre of Malawi National Football Team’s next coach.

Kumwenda, who topped the Caf A Licence class of 2015, advised Football Association of Malawi (Fam) to forget about qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals and focus on the 2021 edition.

Kumwenda, who steered Mponela United (now defunct) to the TNM Super League a few years ago and he has also repeated such a feat with Masters Security FC, said Fam should hire a developmental coach in the mold of Manfred Hoener.

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The German worked in Malawi in the mid 1990s and alongside the then Malawi Under-20 coach, Alex Masanjala, groomed a generation of players such as Peter Mponda, Peter Mgangira, Fischer Kondowe, Esau Kanyenda, Maupo Msowoya and Swadick Sanudi.

“We can have an expatriate, but if we do that we must not take short-cuts and expect results today. We should have a long-term plan. He must come for development to build a strong team for the future,” Kumwenda said.

“We will compete yes, but let us compete with Under-23s so that by 2021, we can qualify for Afcon finals. Let us not put too much effort on qualification for the 2019 Afcon but on development.”

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Kumwenda said he had, in his capacity as a member of Fam Technical sub-Committee, given his input on the selection process of the coach and it was up to the association’s executive committee to take the advice or not.

“The executive committee members are like politicians. They want instant results. People are under pressure to produce results, but to us who are small, we are looking at development. As I have said, we need someone who can harmonise the youth football structures from the Under-15 league,” he noted.

In the race for a place at the 2019 Afcon finals, the Flames will compete with Morocco, Cameroon and either Comoros or Mauritius in Group B.

The Flames last kicked the ball in September 2016 whereas the Indomitable Lions and the Atlas Lions were in action at the 2017 Afcon finals in Gabon.

Veteran Coach, Yasin Osman, recently said while the Flames were in a very tough group for the 2019 Afcon race “football is the kind of a game that if minnows like us believe and prepare properly, we could cause a surprise and qualify.”

Fam General Secretary, Alfred Gunda, last week said while it makes sense to invest in a future team, the Flames have the 2019 assignments to fulfill.

He added that talks were at an advanced stage with the government over the recruitment of the next coach.

Over 60 coaches such as Eddingtone Ng’onamo, Gilbert Chirwa and Bruce Globbelaar (Zimbabwean), have submitted to Fam unsolicited applications for the post. Ernest Mtawali was the last Flames’ permanent coach with Gerald Phiri Senior hired a few weeks in a caretaker role.

“We are looking forward to finalising the things which the government advised us to incorporate in our earlier report. Alongside government, we will look at the best and fastest way of getting a coach who will suit our needs,” Gunda said.

“That is the overcast in terms of the bigger picture [developing a team]. However, we are not abandoning the active level of the Flames. The Flames have a fixture and we need someone who can fuse in the existing players with the new ones.”

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