Malawi national football team players have thrown their weight behind coach Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) despite calls for the Belgian’s head following the Flames’ exit at the ongoing Cosafa Cup in Polokwane, South Africa.
The Flames fate was doomed at the tournament after losing 1-0 to 161st-ranked Mauritius in their opening match.
Angola gave Malawi a lifeline by beating Mauritius 1-0, which meant, Malawi only had to beat Botswana so that Group B teams tie on points and fight for qualification in the last group matches.
But the Flames threw away this opportunity as they only managed a one-all draw with Botswana.
The draw meant the match against Angola on Friday was just a dead rubber.
As public pressure mounts for Football Association of Malawi (FAM) to fire the Belgian, the Flames players led by their captain John Lanjesi and his deputy John ‘CJ’ Banda have said they are to blame.
“If there is anyone who has to be blamed, then it is us the players. The coach has done everything possible to ensure we win. It’s us the players who have betrayed him by failing to deliver,” said Banda.
“If you look at the chances we created and the goals we conceded, you can see that we are to blame. There is a limit as to what the coach can do to make the team win, the rest is for us to do our part and we failed to do that. We played well but we lack that finishing capacity.”
In the match against Mauritius, Malawi had 26 shots on goal and 11 on target but failed to score.
Reacting to the players support for him, RVG said he had taken positives from the Cosafa Cup.
He said: “At first people were saying we were just passing the ball around in our half…we have stopped that and we are now going forward and creating chances. Last year, we failed even to score, this time we have managed to score. The only problem remaining is that we miss a lot of chances. Once that is rectified, I tell you, this team will go places. We have a team with an average of 25, 26 years old and I see that this is the future of Malawi football.”
But soccer analyst George Chiusiwa warned RVG to avoid trusting the ages of the players.
He said: “Is it surprising that relatively young players such as Precious Sambani and Rafick Namwera are the ones shining for Malawi?”