Former Malawi national football team assistant coach, Gerald Phiri Senior, has said the country’s football risks being trapped in a vicious circle if gossiping among authorities is tolerated.
Phiri, who has been discarded by Flames Coach, Ronny van Geneudgen (RVG), said it was a concern that the national team has stagnated in the last two years due to chopping and changing of coaches.
“We had Ernest Mtawali who had a good vision for the team but someone who is not even a citizen of this country talked ill of him and he [Mtawali] left. We trusted that expatriate coach thinking that he would help us. Now where is he? He is not even in the country. So, we have to get rid of gossiping if this game is to develop in the country,” Phiri said without mentioning actual names.
Mtawali left the team at the end of his one-year contract in 2016 and his former assistant, Burundian Nsanzurwimo Ramadhan, took temporary charge of the Flames.
Ramadhan now coaches Mbeya City FC in Tanzania after exiting from Nyasa Big Bullets last season.
Now Phiri and his fellow former co-assistant coach, Deklerk Msakakuona, have not been maintained as assistants to RVG, amid reports of a strained working relationship between the two coaches and the Belgian.
When Phiri and Msakakuona were hired, there were also questions on their track record at club level.
Phiri is yet to win silverware as a head coach whereas Msakakuona steered Blue Eagles to Carlsberg Cup glory and two bronze medals with Malawi under-17 national football team. Msakakuona has since rejoined Eagles.
RVG has called TN Stars Coach Meke Mwase and Civil Sporting Club’s Franco Ndawa as his deputies in the current Flames’ camp training.
However, Phiri said he was not bitter for being dropped from the Flames’ coaching panel.
“Had it been that I was fired by those who employed me for, maybe, underperformance, I could have been worried. But in this case, it is him [RVG] who has decided not to work with me. There is no problem because I have not failed in my job.
“Normally, that is what most expatriate coaches do. They always want to choose those they want to work with. They want to work with those who cannot oppose or suggest anything to them. So, I cannot talk much because I will be considered a bitter man,” Phiri said.
Going forward, Phiri said he would like to take a breather for a season.
“I signed a one-year contract as Flames assistant coach so the contract expires on March 31 2018.
I will be waiting for the expiry of the contract to see the way-forward,”
Asked why he was unable to continue working with Phiri and Msakakuona, RVG said it was not his decision to replace the pair.
“You must have been aware that the decision was made by an Executive Committee [of Fam].
How come you ask me this foolish question? What kind of a reporter are you?” RVG ranted.
National Football Coaches Association Chairperson, Stewart Mbolembole, said it was unfortunate that the country keeps on wasting talented coaches at an unprecedented level.
“I would not be in a position to comment on Phiri’s observation because I don’t know what were the terms and conditions. But what I would say is that it is a concern that from a moment we engaged Kinnah Phiri, we keep on hiring and firing local coaches [for the national football team], so soon we will have nobody to hire because we would have finished them all.
“If I were a coach, I would have maintained Gerald and Deklerk because they have spent a year there [with the Flames]. Fam asked us to recommend two coaches and we gave them Gerald and Deklerk.
We only learnt that the two had been replaced. We don’t know what really happened because nobody complained to us,” Mbolembole said.