Malawi’s Flames Coach, Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) has, straight from Uganda, joined under-20 national football team camp training at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.
The Belgian has joined Coach, Meke Mwase, in drilling the Junior Flames ahead of their Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations preliminary round qualifier tomorrow. The return match will take place two weeks later in Swaziland.
Under-20 Team Manager, Aubrey Nankhuni, said RVG and Portugal-based striker Abel Mwakilama have boosted morale in camp.
“Abel was allowed to rest on Wednesday but he insisted on training, so he did light training. RVG is also rendering a helping hand to Head Coach, Meke Mwase, and [Lovemore] Fazili,” Nankhuni said.
Mwase said Mwakilama’s presence has motivated his teammates.
“Abel’s presence has helped the other guys to work extra harder, knowing that it is possible to play abroad if they work hard,” Mwase said.
Swaziland arrived in the country on Wednesday afternoon.
Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Vice- President, James Mwenda, who also heads the association’s Youth and Technical Committee, justified RVG’s direct involvement in the Junior Flames.
“He is basically supervising all national teams as he does with the under-17 so that issues of his football philosophy, being played at the senior team, should be played across the board,” he said.
Mwenda admitted that, elsewhere, senior national team coaches do not get involved in training junior national teams, but said such a role is part of RVG’s terms of reference.
Asked as to who is senior between RVG and Fam Technical Director (TD), John Kaputa, Mwenda was elusive in his response.
“The TD’s role is to do with technical programmes for youth development, training and supervision of coaches and developing a curriculum,” Mwenda said.
National Coaches Association of Malawi General Secretary, Dave Mpima, Thursday said his association also queried Fam about RVG’s role.
“We asked Fam about the same issue and they also gave us the same answer that it is part of his contract, so we have no problem,” Mpima said.
RVG accompanies under-17 and under-20 national teams on foreign trips. In December, the Flames mentor was part of the Junior Flames squad that participated in Cosafa Junior Championship in Zambia but senior coaches for other teams were conspicuously absent.
After the Flames’ 0-0 draw in Uganda against the Cranes on Tuesday, the Belgian said he was looking forward to joining the Junior Flames’ camp.
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