Be Forward Wanderers’ technical committee chairperson Mike Butao has triggered a verbal war at the Lali Lubani by questioning the technical panel’s performance against other TNM Super League championship contenders.
Stung by straight 0-2 and 1-2 losses to Silver Strikers and defending champions Big Bullets respectively in the last two weeks, Butao yesterday wondered why the expensively assembled squad can only beat opposition without title aspirations.
“You can’t win the league by losing to immediate rivals. No one else can beat them for us. We are losing to the same teams that beat us last season. I need to see progress and that can only come from the technical side. There is no visible progress,” Butao said on Sunday.
Powered by K70 million (US$155 556) Be Forward sponsorship money, Wanderers invaded the transfer market to sign Jabulani Linje, Peter Munthali, Isaac Kaliati, Muhamad Sulumba, Jimmy Zakazaka, Malumbo Gondwe, Stanley Sanudi, Precious Msosa, Rafik Mussa and Ibrahim Sadiki. They bought the squad at an estimated K14 million.
Boasting last season’s Super League winning coach, Elia Kananji, technical director (TD) Yasin Osman and football development manager Eddingtone Ng’onamo, Wanderers are second on the league table with 21 points from 11 games, five points behind Bullets (12 games).
At a similar stage last season when they eventually finished ninth, the Nomads had already lost four games. Kananji refused to respond directly “to my employer”, insisting that the solution lies in sharpening finishing.
However, Osman said Butao could provide part of the solution if he listened to the technical people’s repeated request to trim the squad from 35 players to 25 as those who are not playing could be a bad influence on the regulars.
“The squad is too big and the coach is unable to focus on the playing squad. We may have bought star players, but there is no guarantee. Even super stars such as Falcao and Angel Di Maria struggle in a new environment. By the way, is he assuming that we will also lose to the same teams in the second-round? ” Osman argued.
At the start of the season, Osman and Ng’onamo used to sit on the technical bench alongside Kananji, but according to the TD, Butao ordered that the duo should not interfere in the coach’s job.
“It could be a factor [in the defeats] as now we cannot communicate to the coach during games. You phone him, he is too engrossed in the game to attend to a call,” Osman said.
Butao defended the decision, saying the TD is only responsible for coaches and not the playing team.
“This squad was bought on the recommendation of the same coaches. I am not accusing them. These sentiments have even been discussed during technical meetings. We owe results to our fans, sponsors and ourselves. We don’t want a situation where we give our rivals a head-start and the gap becomes too big when meeting them again,” argued Butao.
Wanderers captain Francis Mlimbika yesterday insisted that “the worst thing we can do now is to drop our heads. We discussed this in the dressing room and accepted that there is no progress when we lose to fellow title contenders.”