When all is said and done

For those with interest in European football, this is usually the most boring time of the year when the leagues go off-season and the only thing to keep people busy is the transfer speculation most of which borders on lunacy.

It is always welcome, therefore, to have competitions like the European Championships currently underway in Poland and Ukraine.

Curiously, I do not seem to have been as excited about the tournament this year as I have been in recent editions, but I have still been able to watch most of the action. In the last two major competitions, I have been supporting Spain and they duly rewarded my faith by emerging champions. I intend to repay that by remaining loyal to them although I have a feeling they may not repeat the feat.

The other thing that happens during off-season for me personally is that I pay more keen interest on developments on the local scene and it is interesting to follow the raging debate on the future of national team coach Kinnah Phiri given a string of unimpressive results for the Flames. For the first time, there is a growing feeling that his time is up and I know of a Facebook group that has been created to campaign for his ouster.

Last Saturday’s dramatic draw against the Super Eagles of Nigeria was a very fascinating result. On any other day, drawing against such a power house and in the manner we did would have been viewed as a hugely positive result, particularly given our record of usually capitulating, not coming back, in the dying minutes of the game.

But this result has a context. We have targeted qualification for the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014. To stand a chance of making it, we need to top the group and that means doing better than everyone else in the group, including Nigeria. To achieve that we should be beating the Super Eagles on home soil and the draw was, in that regard, a significant setback.

More practically, though, the major reason for consternation among those that are losing patience with Kinnah is the fact that it is a long time since they last tasted victory and the streak of draws has been more than frustrating. You get the sense that these people feel the national coach could have produced better results in most of the drawn games if he had used his resources more intelligently.

There are actually fears that with this notorious trend of irritating profligacy in front of goal, the Flames may register another draw at home to Chad this afternoon. The trouble with such a result, though, is that it would automatically mean that we are out of the African Nations Cup whose finals will take place in South Africa next year. That prospect is just unthinkable in many people’s minds.

Of course, Kinnah is not short of supporters. There are those who feel he has done very well particularly given the fact he achieved what no other coach had achieved in the preceding quarter of a century — taking Malawi to the Nations Cup finals in 2010. Some overzealous loyalists have even gone as far as suggesting that he is the best Malawian coach and, therefore, irreplaceable.

All these are interesting viewpoints but, when all is said and done, my interest is simply seeing Malawi beat Chad today to proceed to the next round of the Nations Cup qualifiers and also go to the top of our World Cup qualifier group. If Kinnah is the man to take us there, let him get the new contract, but if we are not sure, there is no need to persist with him.

Share This Post