As Malawi lines up against Angola in a dead-rubber 2018 Cosafa Cup Group B last match today, time is running out for Flames coach Ronny Van Geneugden (RVG) to start delivering results.
The Flames failed to make it to the quarter-finals for the second consecutive time following a one-one draw against Botswana on Wednesday and a 1-0 loss to 161-ranked Mauritius on Monday.
Meanwhile, some soccer analysts has faulted the Flames’ mentor’s choice of players, arguing the squad is made up of ‘old’ players.
However, the Belgian mentor feels he has made tremendous strides in steering Malawi football to the Promised Land.
He insists that he is on the right track in rebuilding the team and results will come later.
“I think when you talk about rebuilding process you are talking of progress and results. I think this tournament has showed that we are on the right track, but that we have a lot of work to do on finishing.
“If you don’t create chances during the game, then you have a problem. But if we count chances against Mauritius and Botswana, I believe that we are on the right track,” he said.
Asked to point at tangible progress during his first year of his contract, RVG cited Under-17 and Under-20 national teams’ achievements.
“If we talk of progress, last year we took bronze medal at Cosafa Under-17 and this year we are close to Under-20 African Cup of Nations [Afcon] qualification finals for next year in Niger as we play South Africa.
“So, I think we are making good progress that gives Malawi football hope for the future and that’s what we have to build on. I am sure that if we stick together the results will come at the end,” said RVG.
Commenting on Malawi’s exit after the draw against Botswana, he said: “It was very painful. We need to do a lot to improve. We need to finish the game when we have chances. We are playing good football. Creating good chances in the box, but we are not using them. These two games have shown us that we need to be killers both defensively and offensively in the 18-yard-box.”
But soccer analyst George Chiusiwa observed that RVG is building castles in the air with a team of over-aged players that cannot be the future of Malawi football.
He said: “In football, some aspects are so basic to a fully-fledged footballer. Passing the ball, shooting, ball control, positional play, timing and speed on the ball, marking, collective play, delaying tactics, real time concentration and focus, composure, gauging an opponent’s moves, fair play—these are expected from an established player in a game situation.
“Such aspects can’t be taught to an old player. Players are more trainable at a tender age, perhaps at Under-15, Under-17 and Under-20 stages. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. One gets the picture that the Flames are one of the youngest squads at the 2018 Cosafa Cup. But truly this isn’t the case as some of the said ‘young’ players are men masquerading as boys.”
Former Malawi international Acton Munthali said Malawi should not participate in international competitions until it has built a new team. n