In what could compromise performance, claims of FAM officials imposing players on the Flames caretaker coaches have emerged with the release of the latest squad further giving weight to such reports.
But questions arose last weekend when Nyirenda announced both the three-month extension of the caretakers’ tenure and the release of the Flames squad.
The release of the squad for the July 6 Independence Celebrations game raised questions as to who might have selected it in the absence of the caretaker coaches whose initial three-month tenure had expired on June 30.
On Tuesday, Eddingtone Ng’onamo insisted that he, in consultation with his assistants Patrick Mabedi and Ernest Mtawali, picked the squad earlier after Cosafa had asked FAM for submission of a preliminary team.
However, the July 6 squad has players who are not part of the Cosafa team such as Richard Chipuwa, Stain Malata, Kondwani Lufeyo, Chawanangwa Kaonga and Schoemaker Kuwali.
It is unclear how Ng’onamo and his assistants were able to choose in advance the July 6 squad when the Flames were until last week not expected to play Mozambique. Government only made a U-turn last week.
In separate interviews on Monday, Mtawali and Mabedi said they do not know anything about the July 6 squad, with the former adding: “Maybe Mr Ng’onamo and FAM can explain.”
The Nation sources indicate that additional players such as Chiukepo Msowoya, Jimmy Zakazaka and Dave Banda, who were called up after Ng’onamo had released the squad for last month’s game against Kenya, were selected by a senior FAM official.
“I am not sure about that,” Ng’onamo said when asked about his assistants being in the dark about the latest squad and the issues of the Kenya squad’s late call ups.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu yesterday could neither deny nor confirm that he was responsible for calling Msowoya and Banda. But Nyamilandu corroborated Ng’onamo’s version for the Cosafa and July 6games.
As for the assistant coaches’ being in the dark, Nyamilandu said that was a matter of working relationship among the coaches.
“FAM offers a guiding role to the coaches. They do not work in a vacuum. If there are cases where we feel players are being sidelined or they deserve a second chance, we advise the coaches,” he said.
During the Kenya game, both Msowoya and Banda were a pale shadow of themselves with the latter pulled out in the first-half.
Analysts fear the coaches could be failed if they are not given a free hand.
Msowoya’s call-up from Mozambique occurred a few days after, through the press, he pleaded for another Flames chance. Zakazaka had struggled to even score last season and he ended up being dropped from the squad while in Malawi.
“The coaching panel never discussed this, but there was nothing they could do since the order came from a top official. Sometimes the coach learns about the additional players when being asked by the press and he ends up owning the call ups,” said the source.
FAM vice-president Moses Mkandawire, who heads the technical committee, on Tuesday said the coaches operate independently when choosing players.
“Unless things have changed for reasons I do not know, I do not select players. Even FAM leadership does not do that. We do not interfere, we give them total confidence and trust,” said Mkandawire.
Questions on Flames selection merit were common during the tenure of deposed Kinnah Phiri. Peter Pindani, then playing for Big Bullets, once suspected favouritism. Silver Strikers chairperson Dr MacDonald Mafuta-Mwale also questioned the continued sidelining of the then in-form Peter Mgangira.
During the week, ex-Flames technical adviser Jack Chamangwana said in their tenure there was no interference.
Apparently, the problem of associations being involved in selection of players may not be unique to Malawi. Unhappy with Stephen Keshi’s ignoring of top Europe-based players and the resultant 2013 Confederations Cup dismal showing, the Nigeria Football Federation this week said the coach will no longer be selecting the Super Eagles’ squad unilaterally.