Written by INNOCENT KUMCHEDWA
The final round of the 2013 Orange Africa Cup (Afcon) qualifiers rolled out last week and the Flames played the Black Stars of Ghana at the latter’s backyard where the Flames lost 2-0.
Some of us anticipated for a win so as to put ourselves in the comfort zone as far as the qualifying campaign is concerned. But hopes were shattered following that defeat to the Black Stars. A win or at least a draw could have been the concussion that would have revitalized the Flames to kill off Ghana in the decisive return leg match here at home in October.
Sadly, the Flames allowed Black Stars to hit the back of their net twice, dashing Malawians’ optimism of qualifying to the finals to be stage in South Africa, the rainbow country. The Black Stars, however, are highly ranked in African but football is played on the pitch not on paper as such I will try to take you through the game and establish what went wrong.
We should look at the players who went to Ghana. As a football pundit, the squad which traveled to Accra was not worth the salt and ineffective. Coach Kinnah Phiri has been receiving criticism over the tendency of incorporating inactive players into the squad. Soccer pundits have always criticized the coach over this but it appears the coach is yet to buy the ideas being offered by football analysts and last week we consequently paid the price for not following and inflexibility of the coach.
In the squad, Kinnah had players like midfielder Dave Banda, who has been inactive this season at club level and has resorted to come home from South Africa where he was plying trade to start afresh. But the coach included Banda in the starting eleven. Another player who was not supposed to be part of the squad is Frank Banda. These two players were entrusted with role of manning the midfield.
Frank’s performance has gone down and has been reduced to mere a spectator or bench warmer at Silver Strikers. He was a force to reckon with at Lilongwe based Civo United.
The bottom line is that a number of Flames players are not given game time at their respective clubs. Atusaye Nyondo is not regular in the South Africa’s Super Sport United’s squad. Likewise, Jimmy Zakazaka and Peter Wadabwa are faced with the same situation. Likely, their level of fitness has also gone down due to lack of game time.
All these ineffective players were in the first eleven with Kinnah expecting fruitful results from them. The other miss for the coach, was the late substitutions he made. He decided put Robin Ngalande and man of the moment Gabadinho Mhango on the bench, the reason for doing so are known to himself.
Should the duo came on early, the Flames could have scored. They effectively changed the game when they were introduced only time was not on their side as the substitution came too late hence the failure to reduce the goal deficit.
Finally, goals are what matters in the game of football and the Flames and their coach shouldn’t be contented with draws. Instead of being offensive, Kinnah did the other way round. He should exorcise the spirit of playing defensive kind of football when playing away.
Of late, better results for the Flames have been draws. So this compelled me to take you through the game once more and probably say that may be Kinnah has run out of ideas so much that he can’t replicate his 2010 magic which helped the Flames qualify for the Afcon finals in Angola. Which local coach do you think can save the Flames? What do others think?
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