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Sports Minister to summon RVG, Flames players

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By Mabvuto Kambuwe:

The fallout between the country’s football fraternity and Malawi national football team coaches has reached critical levels, with the government planning to intervene on the matter.

It was clearly evident that Flames Coach Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) and his assistant Peter Mponda are no longer wanted as the two were booed on Tuesday at Kamuzu Stadium when Malawi under-23 drew 1-1 against Botswana.

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Fans loudly protested each time RVG or Mponda stood to shout instructions to players on the pitch.

The atmosphere at the stadium was so tense that Football Association of Malawi president Walter Nyamilandu was forced to use the dressing room exit after the match.

Nyamilandu is under fire for backing the Belgian and insisting that the Flames are on the right track despite registering no victory in their last five matches.

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Minister of Labour, Youth Sports and Manpower Development, Grace Chiumia, who watched the Tuesday match, said she is planning to convene separate special meetings with RVG and his players to find solutions.

Chiumia was speaking in Parliament on Thursday when she was asked about the team’s dismal performance in recent years.

Chiumia said as a minister, she does not want to rush to pointing fingers at any one before meeting all the stakeholders.

“We understand all concerns about our team’s performance but we should not be quick to point fingers at some one. My plans are to meet the coach himself to find out from him and also meet the players separately without interference so that I appreciate what are the problems.

“After that, I will meet other stakeholders in the game. I believe that after the three meetings, we will manage to find the real reasons behind the problems that are there,” Chiumia said.

Nyamilandu has refused to step down from his post, saying he would continue serving until the end of his term which expires in December next year.

Malawi failed to qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals to be staged in Cameroon after losing 2-1 to Comoros.

Nyamilandu further infuriated the country’s soccer lovers when he said that Malawi had lost to a France select side, claiming that most of the players Comoros featured in the match came from the European country.

In the qualifiers, the Flames have only managed a single 1-0 win over Comoros at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe but lost to Morocco 3-0 , Cameroon 1-0 before a goal-less draw and a 2-1 loss to the Indian Ocean island team whose population is less than 500,000.

Since RVG took over in April last year, the Flames have only won two games, drawing nine and lost eight out of 19 games. In the Afcon qualifiers, Malawi has scored just two goals against six.

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