Apart from Kinnah Phiri, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has never kept a local coach the way it has done with Ronny Van Geneugden.
You would be risking a thumb ache if you were to scroll down to 123rd place in the FIFA rankings where the Flames, coached by the Belgian, bafflingly lies.
With only one exception in Kim Splidsboel, never in the history of Malawian football has a foreign coach left the Flames in a better position than they were in when the coach assumed the helm.
Allan Gillet, Burkhard Ziese and Tom Saintfiet all steered Malawi lower down the FIFA rankings. Surprisingly, FAM keeps looking to foreign coaches to deliver Malawi from depths of the rankings and into a World Cup or African Cup of Nations (AFCON) berth, in the naïve hope that they will be better than the last one.
Moreover, no foreign coach has helped the team to qualify to the AFCON.
FAM seems to forget that it was Henry Moyo and Kinnah Phiri in 1958 and 2010 respectively who helped the team to qualify for the AFCON finals, Phiri who led Nyasa Big Bullets to the group stages of CAF Champions League.
Clearly, we have coaches who have the potential to lead the national team to great success but the FA would opt to give a long-term contract to a foreign coach and give a one year contract to a local coach.
Is it possible for the local coach to bring results within a year? Why can’t the FA treat the local coaches the way it does to foreign coaches? Young Chimodzi got fired by the FA just because Malawi lost to Zimbabwe in the AFCON qualifier at home despite winning the Cosafa Castle Plate in South Africa.
Apart from Chimodzi, the late Jack Chamangwana, Ernest Mtawali, Yasin Osman, Eddington Ng’onamo and Ernest Mtawali got fired by the association within a year of their contracts.
Ever since RVG took over from Mtawali, the team’s performance has gone down to the extent of failing to go beyond the group stages of Cosafa Castle Cup but surprisingly, the FA continues to support the foreign coach saying “he needs time” in order to succeed with the team.
If the FA is able to give support to the foreign coach, why can’t they do the same to our local coaches? We have quality in our own coaches but we don’t afford them sufficient opportunities to realize this potential. And when they’re achieving even moderate success, we fire them for petty reasons and out of emotions, as in the case of Phiri, Chimodzi and Mtawali.
FAM has not kept a coach long enough for it to conclude that local coaches are not good enough for the job.
Foreign coaches, like local coaches, are only as good as their record. They are not messiahs and they are not superior to local coaches by virtue of their foreignness. They do not receive their training from some elite, futuristic academy somewhere far, far away.
Like the local coaches, they are only as good as their record. So if we absolutely must hire one, let us at least make sure the coach has some degree of success on the international stage. And for goodness sake, let us not hire someone who has never coached any national team before, someone who is trying to build his CV by using our national team.
There are plenty of local coaches who deserve a chance at coaching their national team, and here we are busy hiring someone who has no experience at all to try his luck with our senior team.
By no means is Flames’ woeful state the exclusive fault of RVG. It is the responsibility of FAM to hire coaches who are best suited for the job.
If we continue treating the local coaches the way we are doing right now, we will never know their potential. They deserve a fair treatment.