By Mabvuto Kambuwe
Flames coach Meck Mwase has been pushed down the pecking order after Football Association of Malawi (Fam) opted for newly appointed Technical Director Marian Mario Marinica to take charge of the senior side.
The association also beefed up the technical panel by appointing two British nationals Clwyd Jones as psychologist and Ged Searson as data analyst and opposition scout.
Fam, in a statement, has indicated that the arrangement is temporal and is meant for Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals slated for Yaounde, Cameroon.
The decision was made at Fam Executive Committee meeting held on Friday in Mangochi.
This follows Flames’ poor showing in the just ended World Cup qualifiers in which the Flames finished bottom after suffering five losses and one win in six matches.
Fam General Secretary Alfred Gunda said the arrangement was specifically for Afcon finals slated for January 9 to February 6 2022.
“It has become very clear that the team has technical and tactical deficiencies that have to be worked on in order to turn around its performance,” Gunda said in statement yesterday.
“After careful consideration, the Executive Committee approved that the new Technical Director, Marian Mario Marinica, should temporarily take charge of the Flames as Head of Technical Panel supported by Meck Mwase.”
This means Marinica will be responsible for team selection and training sessions during the Afcon finals.
Gunda said the association hired Searson and Jones because there was a gap.
“Realising the enormity of the gap that has to be closed and the daunting task that lies ahead, the Executive Committee approved the hiring of a professional data analyst and sports psychologist to work with the team,” Gunda said.
Searson, who has 26 years of experience as a scout, had stints with English Premier League side Westham FC, Gillingham FC and Barnet FC.
However, Fam insisted yesterday that Mwase is still the head coach whereas Lovemore Fazili and Bob Mpinganjira remain 1st and 2nd assistant coach, respectively.
Fam Sub-technical Committee Chairperson Tiya Somba-Banda confirmed that the Romanian will be responsible for team selection to instill his philosophy in the team.
“He loves fast and very fast football. He wants to instill his philosophy into the team. He needs to take full control of the team so that he implements his philosophy,” he said.
Marinica was philosophical in his reaction saying it was too early to rejoice.
“It is not what I came for. But as the Ex-Co [executive committee] has assigned me this task, I look forward to fulfill it the highest possible level.
“Please hold your horses. That does not mean we expect to win it. We are not going there to give to Malawians unrealistic hopes to win the Afcon. As we all know that high unfulfilled hopes result in bitter disappointments,” he said.
Mwase, sounding calm, said he was eager to learn from the Romanian.
“I am not disappointed with the special arrangement. This is a chance for some of us to learn,” Mwase said.
Mwase signed a new two-year deal in August this year after he guided the Flames to Afcon finals, becoming the third local coach after late Henry Moyo in 1984 and Kinnah Phiri in 2010.
National Football Coaches Association General Secretary Davie Mpima said he wanted to consult before speaking on the matter.
As part of preparations for Afcon finals, the Flames are expected to camp in Saudi Arabia. The Flames, who are making a third appearance at the continental showpiece are in Group Balongside Senegal, Zimbabwe and Guinea.
Malawi will start the Afcon finals campaign against Guinea on January 10 at Kouekeng Stadium in Bafoussam, before meeting fellow Cosafa side Zimbabwe on January 14.
The team will finish group campaign against last edition’s runner-up Senegal on January 18.