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Genesis of blues

Be Forward Wanderers disagree, but statistics indicate that they hire and fire eight players on average every season, dismiss a coach every season—little wonder Nomads have not won the TNM Super League championship since 2007.

Wanderers have signed 70 players in the last nine years, averaging eight per season with 12 coaches hired in that period, including three in the last seven months.

This season, Wanderers have signed 15 players while releasing 14 (including on loan), compared to six players who Nyasa Big Bullets have hired with a similar number off-loaded (including on loan) this season.

Wanderers have won five league titles since 1986, behind Silver Strikers’ eight and Bullets’ unprecedented 13 championships.

Bullets preserve their DNA with current head coach, Lloyd Nkhwazi, now into his seventh year at the club. Defender Chiku Kanyenda has spent 13 years at the club. Fischer Kondowe and Diverson Mlozi are other long-serving members.

Despite such fluidity in the squad, Wanderers are still cup kings as it takes five games to win a cup. The prospect of earning more in a short period of time motivates players. Players share 60 percent from a cup prize money.

There is a general leadership problem at Lali Lubani Road, a source said, adding: “Much of the football at Wanderers is played off the pitch. The more Wanderers sign a new face, the weaker the team becomes.”

While such fluidity paints a picture of broken continuity, Wanderers’ General Secretary, Mike Butao, disagreed on Thursday when the facts were put to him.

Butao said players are hired on coaches’ recommendation to the technical committee, which he chairs with the Supporters’ Committee’s chairperson, Yamikani Kaliyapa, also sitting in the committee alongside others.

“The recommended list is given to the executive for final approval. Once approved the GS is assigned the work of bringing in the players. In the last two years, there are only two players that have been recommended by the coaches that we have failed to bring in because their demands did not tally with their ages,” he explained.

“Otherwise, we have bought/given the coaches all the players they requested and over the last two years we have made sure to have two quality players in each position. The attacking and goalkeeping positions have three players in each position. It has been a strategic plan.”

There are also reports of divisions among Wanderers’ players due to an insensitive wage structure that has very few players, such as Genki Nakamura, Amos Bello and Jabulani Linje, earning a lot, yet they are not regulars.

Most of the regulars are disgruntled that bench-warmers earn more. In teams such as Bullets and Silver, the wages are segmented based on performance and seniority. Nomads players’ salaries range from K150,000 to K400,000.

Butao disputed this, saying that “people think that players who were playing outside Malawi must be getting a lot of money for them to be at Wanderers. At Bullets, you have players who were outside Malawi before but you will never hear those stories.”

He added: “Our highest paid player is always our captain [Francis Mlimbika] and we try to maintain fairness. There are players at Wanderers who signed contracts before the Be Forward sponsorship, but we revised their salaries even without extending their contracts to make sure there was parity with the new signings.”

Mlimbika boycotted Wanderers’ trip to Lilongwe last week over unpaid signing-on fees. It has also transpired that top officials hire players and force them on coaches.

Before their league game against Bullets two weeks ago, Wanderers’ officials reportedly tampered with the then coaches, Eddingtone Ng’onamo and Elia Kananji’s starting XI. Wanderers lost 1-0 to Bullets.

Kananji told The Nation last week that there was interference at Wanderers whereas Ng’onamo described the team’s officials as amateurish.

‘New’ coach, Yasin Osman, commenting on his squad’s assessment in a separate interview last week, said some players were not committed and that the squad was too big.

But on Thursday, Butao insisted that they signed three players in most positions to rebuild the team while eyeing glory after two years.

Butao also said they do not fire coaches willy-nilly, adding that they maintained, for two years, Kananji, who was an assistant coach on paper “but in practice he was head coach. The other head coaches were brought in to comply with Club Licensing System regulations. That is why we released him due to the poor performance of the team because he was the one coaching.”

Malawi News has also established that Wanderers’ Executive Committee works in isolation so much so that save for Butao and Chairperson, George Chamangwana, no one else in management knows the contents of the sponsorship agreement with Be Forward Limited.

“The Be Forward contract is a confidential document,” Butao insisted, adding that as the GS, when he speaks some people think it is in his personal capacity yet he is only the mouthpiece of the executive.

“We are not mandated to discuss the contents in public. But the critical issue here is that the contract was given to our trustees for scrutiny before pen was put to paper. So the trustees know every detail in the contract. You can confirm this with the Secretary of the trustees.”

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