Despite Malawi national football team (the Flames) successive failure to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations, government insists coach Kinnah Phiri will stay put.

Youth and Sports Minister Enoch Chihana has said government has no plans to terminate Kinnah’s contract. The coach was subjected to a torrid time by some fans who turned on him as the Flames lost 3-0 on aggregate against Ghana.

The soccer fraternity plunged into mourning after the Flames crashed, for the umpteenth time, at the final hurdle. They lost the second game 1-0 at Civo Stadium, sparking calls for the coach’s removal as some fans chanted: “Achoke! Achoke! (he should be fired)”.

However, the coach has received the backing of his employers who stated that he is in the process of building a new team.

“Kinnah will see out his contract. As government, we have no plans to terminate his contract.

“Looking at the game against Ghana, our team played well, it was just unfortunate that we did not score. We cannot measure his [Kinnah’s] success on Ghana. Maybe, if it were teams such as Zimbabwe, Lesotho or Swaziland.

“The problem with us Malawians is that we rush to demand the removal of people in public positions when something goes wrong. We demand the removal of the coach, [even] the removal of the [State] President. It is unfair,” said Chihana.

Sober reflection

Recently, FAM also asked fans to reflect on the issue soberly.

Football Association of Malawi (FAM) second vice-president Pikawo Ngalamila said while they understood the pain endured by the fans following their team’s failure to cross the line and compete at the continental showcase for the third time, it is important to calm down and reflect on the bigger picture.

“As an association, we understand how painful it was because there was an awful lot of expectation that the Flames would give out something extra and upset the tables. It would have been a solace had we at least drawn or won.

“But this is not the right time to start pointing fingers, rather we need to reflect on the bigger picture and map the way forward.

“It’s important that we remain calm, let’s not act out of emotions,” said Ngalamila.

He further said the way forward will be discussed during the association’s executive board meeting slated for next Saturday.

However, Lilongwe-based fan Terry Pangani argued that government and FAM have no basis of maintaining Kinnah when neighbours Zambia gave their former coach Dario Bonetti the boot when he had led the team to qualify for 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

“And Zambia went on to win the Nations Cup for the first time. That is the approach we need to take if we are to make strides like Zambia,” said Pangani.

But Ghana’s coach Kwesi Appiah also threw his weight behind his counterpart after the game, saying he needs to be given full support.

Kinnah made his position plain after the game that he would not quit.

“They [supporters] have got the right to say whatever they want. The only good thing is that they don’t have a say on my future. I report to my employers in this case FAM and government and I am answerable to them,” said Kinnah.

He also insisted that he is building a team for the future.

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