By Penelope Paliani-Kamanga
BLANTYRE - Angered by the Flames coach, Belgian Ronny Van Geneugden's one year performance with the national team, a group of Malawians calling themselves "Concerned Supporters" have asked for the coach to be fired.
In the same vein, the grouping is also asking Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu to resign.
Leader of the Concerned Supporters, Ajasi Kalowe, said that they had decided to hold nationwide demonstrations because they were not happy with the coach's and the president's performance in as far as football is concerned in Malawi.
Public outcry has soared and has led to threats of demonstrations following the Flames’ poor performance after recent back-to-back losses to Morocco and Kenya.
Fans have also said they are angry because ever since the coach was appointed last year, the Malawi national team has not made any significant win, a move that has totally angered the country's soccer lovers.
The climax of the public anger was in April this year when Nyamilandu commended the coach, arguing that in his one year in charge, Geneugden has achieved what world-class coaches Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho could not have done.
“For someone who has seen the national team play, you can tell the progression in terms of organisation and tactical approach. You can literally tell that the team is being coached and there is a plan in place. The coach has only been in charge for one year and to expect miracles within one year is unrealistic because not even Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho would turn around a team like Malawi within a year. I think the coach has tried and I am satisfied,” Nyamilandu said.
But this did not go down well with the public, a move that prompted renowned journalists Moses Michael-Phiri and Levi Zeleza Manda to call for the firing of the coach.
“I could hardly believe what Walter was saying because in football, one year is a very long period. Some coaches get fired after managing a single training session. So who is Walter fooling?” wondered Phiri.
"During his reign, the Flames mentor’s record is heartbreaking for an average football fan like me. Not only is the Flames performance dismal, but we have failed to surmount any recognisable challenge at any international completion. We, as in Malawi, have been reduced to participants. We participate in tournaments to add numbers. We are, but a laughing stock. RVG’s 16-game statistics do not make good reading; 9 draws, 5 losses and 2 wins. This is inexcusable!"
Phiri said in his analysis that if one loves the Flames, then they have to be worried.
“And if truth be told, RVG is not just up to the job. No matter his history as a great coach, his tricks to turn the Flames luck around are not working,” he warned.
Zeleza Manda, in in analysis, said: "We reached a simple verdict: coach van Geneugden must be fired by Monday; Nyamilandu and his failing Football Association of Malawi should resign immediately after firing RVG; the entire national football team players, including those who warm the bench match after match, should be fired.”
“In short, the Flames must disband immediately. And none of the players must be recalled to the national team.”
Meanwhile the demos have been put on hold until the grouping hears from the police.
“As of now, we are still waiting for a letter from the police. The march once again has been shifted till we hear why they want to meet us. If not satisfied, we will proceed. But we are still waiting for the letter because as of now, we have not yet received the letter,” said Kalowe.
This is the second time the Concerned Supporters have rescheduled the march which was supposed to take place last week.