In the year 2015, a lot happened in major and minor sporting events in the country. But as a country , how did we perfom in the game of football? Malawi24’s Senior Sports Reporter, Andrew Cane Chilapondwa analyses how the national football teams and football clubs performed in the year just ending.
Malawi24 analyses the performance of the Malawi National Football team and the country’s football clubs.
The year 2015 was no different as drama on and off the field kept followers of the beautiful game captivated and enthralled.
The Flames have had a mixed performance in the 2015.
The team played 16 games under two different head coaches.
The Flames had Young Chimodzi from January to July and then saw Ernest Mtawali taking over following the sacking of Chimodzi who led the Flames to a 2-1 loss at home to Zimbabwe in the 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Under Chimodzi, the team played eight games from which they only managed to register two wins, two draws and four losses (representing 12.5 percent winning rate).
The former Flames defender also managed to win the Cosafa Castle plate section in South Africa but met his fate when he failed to beat Zimbabwe at home, a team which had arrived in the country 12 hours before kickoff.
A month later, Mtawali took over.
His first game in charge was the 1-0 victory over the Cranes of Uganda on 6th July as part of the Country’s Independence Day Celebrations.
From there, he travelled to Swaziland for Malawi’s second Afcon qualifier clash from which he earned a point following a two all draw against the Sihlangu Semnikati.
His third game in charge was against the Taifa Stars in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and the first leg ended in disarray as his side was humbled 2-0 by the neighbours but they won at home 1-0 to exit the competition on goal difference.
The former Flames midfielder and his charges then travelled to Ethiopia for the Cecafa tournament in which they registered two wins (beating Sudan 2-1 and Djibouti 2-0) before losing to South Sudan 2-0 in the final group C match.
From there, the Flames were humbled by Uganda 2-0 in the quarter-finals of the cup. Overall, Mtawali registered four victories, a draw and three losses which represent a 50 percent winning rate.
The year 2015 saw 47 different players representing the country at the national team (according to statistics by a football analyst in the name of Mario Antoine who is based in the United Kingdom).
Unlike Chimodzi, the current head coach introduced 20 debutants whose majority came from his under-20 side.
Mtawali dropped the team’s senior players in favour of inexperienced ones.
From January up to date, Malawi has dropped by 21 places on FIFA Coca- Cola rankings (from 88-109).
The Flames had a year to endure as their Afcon qualification is hanging by the thread and they failed to make an impact at the just ended Cecafa tournament.
The team exited the World Cup competition and failed to win the Cosafa Castle Cup again.
In 2016, Malawians will be hoping to have a successful year with their beloved team.
The Performance of the Local
Big Bullets have once again outsmarted every team in the top flight by successfully defending the Super League title.
The people’s team set a record of winning the league with 66 points with four games to spare.
Bullets have now managed to clinch their 13th league title and are the most successful team in Malawi’s history.
The Blantyre based giants were runners up in the Carlsberg Cup following that 2-1 defeat to rivals Mighty Wanderers and finished in the top four of the Standard Bank Knockout Cup.
Bullets also managed to win the league without testing defeat at home.
The year ending will forever remain in the hearts of Bullets fans after the team signed a whooping K0.5 billion sponsorship deal with Nyasa Manufacturing Company, ending their 11-year journey without sponsors.
Their rivals Wanderers had a successful year too as compared to last season when they finished the season on 9th position and did not win any silverware.
However, the year 2015 saw Wanderers clinch the Carlsberg Cup, finish as runners up in the Standard Bank Knockout Cup and finish in the top four of the top flight; no wonder their head coach Elia Kananji described the season as “fair” to his team.
“We won the Carlsberg Cup, runners up in the Standard Bank Cup and top four finish in the league so the season was fair to us,” said Kananji.
Army teams struggled a lot in the just ended season with Mafco Fc the only side to finish in the top 2 of the league but Red Lions, Kamuzu Barracks and Moyale Barracks all finished outside the to six with Airborne Rangers being relegated back to the lower league.
During the year, Civo Service United ended their trophy drought when they managed to beat Wanderers 1-0 in the Standard Bank Knockout Cup at Civo Stadium courtesy of a Nelson Kangunje last gasp effort.
The year 2015 saw the resurgence of up and coming players such as Isaac Kaliyati, Levison Maganizo, Ernest Tambe, Raphael Phiri, Mike Mkwate, Brighton Munthali, Isaac Mwale, Stanley Sanudi, Ibrahim Sadick, Victor Gondwe, Amadu Makawa, Chisomo Mpachika and Yamikani Chester who will be vital if the country is to establish a strong national football team.
In the Super League, the likes of Fisd Wizards, Airborne and Dedza Young Soccer failed to withstand the top flight pressure as they were sent packing in the league.
All in all, Malawians enjoyed the season as clubs entertained their fans throughout the entire campaign. The year 2015 also saw Bullets and former Flames midfielder James Chilapondwa hanging up his boots after playing football for 16 years.
The iconic midfielder managed to win 7 Super League medals and plenty of cup medals. He made more than 42 appearances for the Flames during his playing career.
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