No 2019 Afcon for Flames: 2018 was a bad year for Malawian football

Malawi National Team

The year which is going to an end, 2018, has been a year to forget for the Flames.

When top African nations will be battling it out for supremacy in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, Flames players will be twiddling their thumbs at home.

By missing out on Afcon finals, 2018 will go down as one of the worst in the team’s history.

Malawi National Team
Malawi  (in red): failed to qualify for AFCON

After the team changed hands from Ernest Mtawali to Ronny Van Geneugden, a lot was expected but little was achieved.

As usual, Malawi started the campaign on a high note, beating Comoros Island 1-0 at Bingu National Stadium and this was seen as the start of a new era.

But then the wheels came off when Malawi succumbed to a humiliating 3-0 defeat to Morocco before another defeat at the hands of Cameroon, made the task of qualifying impossible.

In between the failed Afcon campaign, RVG’s men failed to register not even a single win at the 2017 Cosafa Cup in South Africa.

The team then repeated their Cosafa Cup shambolic performances when they exited the 2018 edition without a win, only managing to score a single goal despite traveling with almost a full house squad.

The Afcon qualification campaign was proving to be a huge task for the Flames as they failed to beat Cameroon at home in a goalless draw and signs were that the dream was nearing the end.

The qualification hope was officially over when RVG’s men lost 2-1 to Comoros Island, dropping to the bottom of group B with four points from five games.

As if that was not enough, the team kept on going down on FIFA rankings, finishing the year on position 130.

Next year’s Afcon will be the fifth one they have failed to qualify since 2010 in Angola.

They did not qualify in 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2017 and now they won’t be there next year.

On the domestic scene, 2018 was a year of familiarity, with Nyasa Big Bullets winning their 14th TNM Super League title, and of surprises, with Masters Security capturing Carlsberg Cup.

This month, Be Forward Wanderers brought home the Fisd Cup for the second time since the cup’s inception in 2016.

Blue Eagles ended their trophy drought after winning the Airtel Top 8 Knockout cup but it was a year to forget for Silver Strikes, who, despite having a sound sponsorship, concluded the season without winning anything.

It was a bad year in office for the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) who saw two teams being relegated to the premier division.

Red Lions and MAFCO FC were relegated to Malawi’s second tier following a bad season but it was a season to remember for Karonga United and Mzuni FC who have made it into the top eight, with Moyale Barracks, Azam Tigers and Blue Eagles missing out on top eight finish.

All in all, it was a very competitive season especially in the top flight league.