New national women’s football team coach Abel Mkandawire has admitted that they face a race against time to prepare for the 2020 Olympic qualifier against Mozambique slated for April 4.
Mkandawire, who has replaced Maggie Chombo-Sidik who now holds the technical adviser’s role, says under the circumstances, they need to concentrate on essential aspects.
“Time is not on our side as we only have to weeks to assemble the girls and prepare for the match, we have no choice but to do with the available time.
“The focus will be putting the players in the right physical condition and working on formations and tactics,” he said.
Mkandawire also said winning the first leg at home will be crucial in the campaign.
He also thanked Football Association of Malawi (FAM) for entrusting him with the task, saying: “I thank God for making it possible and FAM for considering me for the role.”
However, National Women Football Association (NWFA) chairperson Severia Chalira said apart from the time factor, Mkandawire’s other challenge will be player identification as he is not directly involved in women’s football.
“Of course, he has been involved in grooming young talent and some of the established players that we have were developed by him.
“But at the high-level, he has not been actively involved and he will have to rely on his assistants MacNebert Kazuwa and Andrew Chikhosi in player-selection because they have been active.
“I would also urge the new coach to start following women football with keen interest,” she said.
Nevertheless, Chalira said they are satisfied with the composition of the coaching panel.
“If FAM technical sub-committee has entrusted him [Mkandawire] with the task, it means they are confident of his capabilities. As for his backroom staff, we also have no problems because we know their capabilities,” she said.
FAM technical sub-committee chairperson James Mwenda, who is also the association’s vice-president, defended Mkandawire’s choice, saying he has always been involved in women football.
“In fact, he was part of the panel when the team participated at the Cosafa tournament last year and he is highly-qualified. So, he is not a ‘stranger in the house’,” he said.
Mwenda also said they decided to ‘elevate’ Chombo-Sidik to technical adviser’s role because they want her to play an advisory role to the coaches as well as work more with women coaches alongside FAM technical director.
He also defended the move to snub Cosafa’s recommendation to prioritise female coaches for the national team, saying: “It was a mere recommendation by the regional body and not a must.”
Meanwhile, Chalira has said through FAM, they have asked for the release of the Chawinga Sisters—Tabitha and Temwa—from their clubs in China and Sweden, respectively, for national duty.
FAM licensing and compliance manager Casper Jangale said they have already written the overseas clubs and they are awaiting their responses.
Chawinga yesterday confirmed that her club is in receipt of the letter from FAM and they are supposed to meet her today to map the way forward.n