Even before the Flames were doused 1-2 by visiting Zimbabwe Warriors in 2017 Africa Cup of Nations last Saturday, Malawi were like a sinking ship that had its crew fighting each other instead of working together to steer the ship ashore to safety.
Coach Young Chimodzi actually threw in the towel at the recent Cosafa Cup in South Africa soon after the Flames lost to Mozambique in the quarterfinal match suspecting that some of the members of his technical panel and players were sabotaging him.
Frustrated by the team’s poor performance and the rift with his backroom staff, the former Malawi international called for an emergency meeting with Fam general secretary, Suzgo Nyirenda, who was in South Africa and announced his resignation.
But the Fam CEO convinced the coach to reverse his decision.
Chimodzi would later miss the second game as Malawi played South Africa in Plate semi-final as he was reportedly sick after his blood pressure rose due to the chaos in his camp.
Though Chimodzi was in charge in the final against Zambia as Malawi won the Plate section, his authority was again undermined in Egypt where it is reported that the players were given different instructions.
A senior player, who did not want to be named, confirmed that the technical panel differed on the approach to the international friendly which Malawi lost 1-2.
“Our assistant coach (Jack Chamangwana) said we had to attack since we would be playing at home against Zimbabwe in the 2015 Afcon qualifier, but the head coach (Chimodzi) was of the view that we should defend since we were playing the international friendly away,” the player said.
Fam has since decided to give interim head coach Ernest Mtawali, an opportunity to pick his assistant to avoid a repetition of the sabotage claims within the technical panel.
The association’s general secretary, Nyirenda, while avoiding to comment directly on the Cosafa and Egypt friendly incidents, said the association wanted the new coach to identify someone he is comfortable working with.
Mtawali has since named Azam Tigers coach Gerald Phiri, whom he worked with at Under-20, as his assistant.
“The idea of us picking the assistant coach seems to be problematic,” GS Nyirenda said.
“It’s like you are forcing someone to work with someone they might not be comfortable to work with.”
Nyirenda also disclosed that the association was investigating alleged indiscipline in the squad that climaxed during the Afcon qualifier against Zimbabwe.
Captain Joseph Kamwendo is being accused of refusing to be substituted at half time.
Later on deep in the second half as Kamwendo was about to be substituted, he gave Esau Kanyenda the arm band.
But the DR Congo based captain has denied ever refusing to be substituted at half time.
“For sure I know that I had a bad day in office, but as a professional I will never refuse to be substituted,” Kamwendo said.
“If you saw properly, I was really ready to come out. But the coaches changed their decisions and that Harry (Nyirenda) should be the one to come out, not me. Why did I give Esau (Kanyenda) the armband if I was refusing to come out?”
The GS Nyirenda, said they were waiting for technical reports from Chimodzi and Chamangwana on all the issues.
“Of course, we sent the coaches on forced leave but we still expect a report from them. Their contracts will expire on July 31 and they will have to submit the report before then. It’s a disciplinary action but it’s too early to speculate anything,” he said.
But speaking in an interview during the week, Chimodzi, could not comment on the issue and said he wanted to rest.
“At the moment, I will be concentrating on my business and other things. I want to rest for few months, but I might return to coaching soon because I am passionate about football,” he said.
Chamangwana, who groomed Chimodzi in his playing days and as coach, is vastly experienced both at local and international stage, denied any bad blood between him and his boss.
Chamangwana, whom many thought should have been the head coach, also said he would take a breather from football as well.
“I have just started my holiday now and I will be able to talk much about the future after the holiday,” said Chamangwana.
Chimodzi and Chamangwana managed to register six wins, five draws and 12 losses.
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