A fortnight ago Walter Nyamilandu had to fend off irate fans calling for his head subsequent to a spate of uninspiring Flames results and performances.
His outlandish reaction to the effect that Flames kick and rush play was at par with Barcelona’s tiki taka possession football did little to placate the frustrated; if anything it only served to exacerbate an already tense climate.
Notwithstanding the volatile events in the domestic scene, Nyamilandu defied all odds stunning Danny Jordaan a renowned South African administrator credited for delivering the World Cup to Mzansi.
Starting as a college footballer before rising to play for Flames his ascendancy is truly a remarkable feat for the affable administrator.
Having lost the Cosafa regional primaries, Nyamilandu displayed rare grit pursuing his ambition to fruition thus curving a niche of history as the first Malawian to sail in the high political waters of global soccer.
Nyamilandu is well aware of the circumstances that led to creation of the vacancy he has just filled and must tread with caution lest he falls prey to the masters of entrapment.
If truth be told, Nyamilandu succeeded to repair FAM’s battered image dented by a scandal plagued era characterised by corrupt practices by high ranking FA officials as well as lack of corporate governance structures which he painstakingly installed.
Nyamilandu took over FAM and oversaw it during a period of acute financial, reputational and operational obstacles leading to sponsors flight only for him to redeem lost trust and confidence.
Administratively, few would fault Nyamilandu’s stewardship though some attribute to FIFA the interventions made.
On the pitch, the Flames form remain rock bottom. Ranked by the poor results, the fans will continue to protest unless the decline in form is arrested.
Any strides made in other areas of the game will pale in significance should Flames continue to misfire.
The National team’s performance and results are a reliable yardstick to measure the state of the game.
After all even FIFAs rankings are premised on the same and not on any other criteria.
Thus Flames results cannot and should not be wished away or swept under the carpet.
During Nyamilandu’s tenure Flames have qualified once for Afcon in 8 attempts representing a success rate of 12.5%, an undoubted fail grade by many academic standards.
But going against Walter carries its own risks at a juncture when he has just risen to the uppermost echelons of football administration.
His status and reputation will only soar. No one from within the structures will dare him as Walter is known to endorse candidates who eventually prevail.
Absent Nyamilandu’s blessings, many a candidate would be floored at the polls. Put simply, he still wields considerable influence.
Any rank outsiders and wannabes will see their challenge flounder like Willie Yabwanya’s in 2016.
Without a serious challenger, Nyamilandu is poised to retain the FA presidency in December 2019. But in the interim his battles will continue and his detractors won’t relent until Flames results assume a northward trajectory.
Yet Nyamilandu might come good on his word and opt out of the forthcoming elections in order to concentrate on his fresh and onerous mandate. The risk is however that such eventuality could plunge the football fraternity into chaos with many administrators jostling to position themselves as successors unless Nyamilandu overtly anoints one.
On the other hand, his departure could pave way for reforms to the narrow size of the Electoral College which is prone to easy manipulation and feared to be insufficiently representative.
Many fans feel short-changed that the fate of our football leadership is left in the hands of a mere 36 delegates.
For now, Nyamilandu is perfectly entitled to bask in the glory of his success whilst we hope that some appreciable benefits will trickle down to our local game. But we are under no illusions that the FIFA Council seat will turn into a magic wand to change our soccer fortunes. Still we ought to roll up our sleeves and do the donkey work.
Article by Lawyer David Kanyenda