FCB Nyasa Bullets say there is need to conduct some soul-searching on the club’s continued struggles in the CAF Champions League.
The People’s Team chief administration officer Albert Chigoga said this in an interview this week in response to a question on the way forward after being eliminated in the second preliminary round of the continental club showpiece.
After four successive fruitless attempts to get past the first hurdle, the TNM Super League champions went a step further in the latest edition, but were left searching their souls when TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo showed no mercy on them with a 5-0 comprehensive demolition on aggregate.
Said Chigoga: “There is need to draw a road map on how the club should build on its experience in the CAF Champions League, having failed to make its way into the group stages for a couple of years.
“There is no denying that CAF competitions require specific caliber of players to make the grade. Bullets has highly-talented players, but they need time to develop mentally and technically in line with the level of the tournamernt.
“Unfortunately, these competitions disadvantage clubs that do not take a radical approach in ensuring that they have a deep squad full of experienced players in inter-continental or international tournaments.
“This requires huge investment, blending young local talents with experienced foreign players that are able to make a difference.
“Indepth discussions around the trajectory the club wants to take plus its vision in African competitions as the Malawi representative in CAF competitions are fundamental metaphors to think about.”
Some football pundits have said there is need for Bullets to accept the reality that the need to invest in quality players to make to the group stages.
The club’s legend and former coach Kinnah ‘Electric’ Phiri, who guided the team to their first-ever and only qualification into the group stages in 2003, said there is need for Bullets to call for a meeting with some of their former players and officials to brainstorm on the way forward.
He said: “We were able to qualify because the club invested heavily by buying quality players. Teams that make the group stages are those that invest a fortune in buying good players such as Al Ahly. [Mamelodi] Sundowns, TP Mazembe, Orlando Pirates, Zamalek, Al Hilal, Esperance and Etoile de Sahel.
“Locally, the team is doing well but the gulf in class is huge when you compare with the international stage. So, I suggest that Bullets should consider organising a meeting with some of its former players, officials and even pundits to brainstorm on the way forward.”
Football management and marketing consultant Felix Ngamanya Sapao, who has worked with teams like TP Mazembe, Dynamos FC and Caps United of Zimbabwe and Zanaco FC from Zambia, also echoed Kinnah on the need to invest.
He said: “If you look at all the 16 teams that have qualified for stages, most of them have a minimum salary of $3 000, they pay their players in the excess of $5 000, maybe except for Jwaneng Galaxy of Botswana and Medeama SC of Ghana.
“The quality of a player is measured by his or her value, Bullets have invested considerably on the local scene, but not good enough compared to the teams that excel.”
Football analyst Parry Chinyama said: “From the onset Bullets did not plan well. It seems they were just excited to join without analysing why they failed in their previous attempts.
“One major problem Bullets have had is the depth of their squad. It hardly has enough on every position. For a team to survive it needs at least 3 players on each position, so that they are not affected by injuries.
“Secondly, they just don’t not have the quality to compete at a continental level. Check with TP Mazembe, Mamelodi Sundows and Simba SC, for instance, they have recruited quality players from across Africa to beef up their squads.
Of course, Bullets did, but are these foreign players of high quality? The answer is no. Bullets should also understand that our league gives them a false impression that they are good.
“Finally, if they want to join next year’s edition, they should start planning now, assemble a better team than the average team they have now. They should face the reality that whatever they have achieved locally, is not a proper yardstick to measure their strength with top foreign clubs.
But another pundit Charles Nyirenda said Bullets’ situation boils down to failure by football authorities to review the standards, citing Football Association of Malawi and Super League of Malawi.
He said: “There is need to dig deeper and get to the root cause of the problem. There is need to set up a panel of experts to act as an inspectorate and review the standards of football in the Super League.
“They can be assessing modules that are being followed in the Super League. Secondly, it is about settling the standards, What is it that we want to be happening and where are we falling short? That should be the starting point.