The truth hurts but I would like to agree with the new Malawi national football team coach Ronny Van Geneugden (RVG) for declaring openly that most football teams’ style of play is kick and rush, just like it is with tennis.
I can attest to that because all along we adopted the expression “Bola ku Nthazi” — meaning that once a defender manages to retrieve the ball from attackers, he must immediately just kick it forward whether his forwards might receive it or not. The idea is get rid of it quickly.
Most of our strikers are short in height and usually are up against tall defenders but our wingers always send high crosses into the box and are easily tamed by the tall defenders.
When the midfielders are in control of the ball through neat interpasses, and when they fail to penetrate a defensive pattern, they would send it back to the defence to try and reorganise another attack but the defenders would just kick it forward to whosoever might win the aerial battle.
The same with goalkeepers — when they retrieve the ball after an attack, they immediately just kick it forward, the same way they do with goal kicks.
Rarely do you see a goalkeeper throwing the ball to his nearest defender who is on safe position to start a proper attack mode and when they do, the defender will just kick it forward.
After watching the game between Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers, in the Airtel Top 8 Cup quarterfinal last Sunday at Mulanje Park, the Belgian coach, who is on a mission of assessing and spotting more talent through the Super League and cup games, he expressed disappointment on the standard and style of play displayed by both teams.
Probably he might have been briefed or knew through the media that these are one of the country’s giant teams. So he expected to see some classic play to be on display knowing this was a high profile match.
To show how disappointed he was, RVG — together with his deputy Gerald Phiri — left the match before it ended and explained to the media that what he had been watching was like ‘tennis’ or I might call might it ‘ping pong’.
He observed that Big Bullets were playing long balls without any game plan while Silver Strikers were just frustrating their opponents by unnecessary delaying tactics.
When he was being unveiled, RVG said that apart from watching local games, he would also patronise clubs’ training sessions. That’s the way forward and I believe that by leaving the game between Bullets and Silver half way through, was not such a good idea at all — he should have continued to take notes till the end so that he can share his assessments with both teams.
He is supposed to watch a team’s training session, tell them their shortfalls, suggest the way forward and then watch their immediate match and go back to the team and analyse the strengths and weaknesses from that particular match.
That way there is mutual respect from all partners in this venture to make the Flames great again. His statement that Malawi football teams’ style of play is like tennis or ping pong is true but the way he expressed it is like ‘don’t expect a miracle from me for the Flames because your football is trash anyway’.
With such attitude, and the way I know Malawians, he should expect cold shoulders from the two teams.
However, I plead with my fellow Malawians to give the Belgian room to know more about our style of coaching and the attitude of our players once they are released onto the field.