Put in 10 in 5 games, beat RVG’s 6 in 22
Malawi national football team’s goal-drought is suddenly a thing of the past after the Flames netted 10 goals in five games at the on-going 2019 Cosafa Cup in South Africa.
Yet the same team with the same players under Belgian coach Ronny Van Geneugden (RVG) only managed six goals in 22 matches in two years.
In six Cosafa Cup matches, RVG managed four draws and two losses and scored a single goal, leaking in four.
Under RVG, the Flames also failed to win a match in two editions of the competition in 2017 and 2018.
But this time they beat Seychelles 3-0, Namibia 2-1 and drew one-all against Mozambique to finish top in Group B.
They are unbeaten in regulation time and only lost in post-match penalties against Zambia in the quarter-finals after giving away a two-goal lead.
But in all matches, the Flames led 1-0 at half time and only conceded in the second-half.
As the Flames will be playing in the plate final against South Africa tomorrow, soccer analyst George Chiusiwa observed that the Flames’ change in fortune was mainly due to the history between interim coach Meke Mwase and the players.
“Most of these players have gone through the Under-17 and Under-20 national teams under Meke Mwase and DeKlerk Msakakuona.
“Mwase has established a good rapport with these players, having been with them in the junior tiers.
“It’s not luck, but good technical work by Mwase and his technical panel. RVG found these players ready to be roped into the senior team but his tactics were wonting and did not work at all,” he said.
Another analyst Charles Nyirenda also reiterated Chiusiwa’s sentiments.
“I have insisted that Malawi has never known defensive football, yet someone brought that here and it let us down badly,” he said.
Nyirenda also cited Mwase’s good relationship with senior players as the secret behind his success.
He said: “I was always surprised that Richard Mbulu, Frank Gabadhino Mhango and Gerard Phiri Jr weren’t favourites of the former coach. Now they are a darling of the current technical panel and they are responding well.”
While Gabadinho and Phiri Jnr have scored three goals and are chasing the golden boot, Mbulu has two while Chikoti Chirwa and Kajoke have a goal each this far. Mwase said the goals have been a product of team work between the technical panel and the players.