Malawians express mixed feelings over new Flames coach

By Penelope Paliani Kamanga

BLANTYRE – Malawians have reacted with mixed feelings over the newly appointed Belgian coach Ronny Van Geneugden, with a majority saying he should be given a chance to improve the team with others wondering why the authorities believe in expatriate coaches.

Blantyre-based sports analyst Timothy Pendani said in an interview that he was hoping for the best from the Belgian coach whose credentials include his coaching successes with Oud-Heverlee Leuven, where he led the team to the Belgian Second Division title in 2010-11, hence gaining promotion to the First Division for season 2011-12.

Geneugden was rewarded with a contract extension to 2015.

Pendani, quoting the local Chichewa adage that a visitor comes with wisdom, said that “Maybe this visitor will make the national team win international games again.”

But another local supporter, Faith Phiri, representing Lilongwe soccer lovers said their group wondered why the Football Association of Malawi and the rest of Africa was so obsessed with appointing foreign coaches.

He said at the moment Malawi does not have enough money to pay these expatriate coaches and that experience has shown that most of the times they have not really performed wonders to the team.

But the 49-year coach, while assuring the fans with new tactics that will put Malawi on the map, again said he was overwhelmed with the passion Malawians have on football.

Geneugden promised to lift the Flames standing on the FIFA rankings. He  said Malawi’s current FIFA ranking can only be improved if much effort is put in winning more games.

He pledged to build the team to enable it to have an identity style of play.

“Football on the ground is the way you play and how supporters appreciate it. When you talk about the game of football it is all about getting the results and that is what I want for the team,” he said.

The national team is currently on position 100 on FIFA rankings released on April 2017 and the first assignment for the new coach is on April 21, 2017 where the Flames will play against Madagascar in the CHAN qualifiers. The FAM boss said patriotism was the main key if the team was to return back to the winning ways.

FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said when he unveiled the new coach that he expected total commitment from the players whenever playing for the team. “Patriotism is the key if we are to return back to the winning ways.

I am asking all the players playing for the national team to develop the winning mentality, to fight for the nation whenever they are in the field of play,” he said.

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