By Bernard Mhone
Former Malawi National team most celebrated coach, Kinnah Phiri, has lashed out at government for failing to honour local football legends, claiming this has contributed to the death of football in the country.
Kinnah, Malawi’s all-time leading goal-scorer, joined politics on Saturday during the launch of United Transformation Movement at Mzuzu Upper Stadium. He plans to contest as a Member of Parliament for Mzuzu City Constituency in the forthcoming elections.
“We, the legends, have not been respected in this country. If we were respected, the national team should not have been suffering [under-performing] like this. It is all because the set-up of our national team is full of young boys; people without experience, so how can they run a national team?
“There is myself, Peterkins Kayira, Young Chimodzi Senior, Hellings Mwakasungula, Yasin Osman, Cedric Nankhumwa and Boniface Maganga. These people should have been part of the national team set-up, but they have dumped and thrown them into a sea. How can it [the national team] survive and progress? [The] government lacks seriousness and respect for legends when it comes to utilising them to develop the sport,” Kinnah said.
However, while the government funds the Flames, it is Football Association of Malawi that runs the national team.
Kinnah steered the Flames to the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Angola, for the first time in 26 years. He served the team from 2009 to 2012 when his contract was not renewed.
During the UTM launch, Kinnah said he would prefer construction of a new stadium in Mzuzu as it would serve more people compared to an airport, which, he claimed, was Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Goodall Gondwe’s priority.
“I met the Minister of Finance and asked him what his priority was as regards development in the Northern Region, I was disappointed when he told me that it was the [construction] of new Mzuzu Airport,” Kinnah said.
In his reaction, Gondwe trashed Kinnah’s sentiments, saying he cannot discuss economic and development issues with the coach.
“I never discussed this issue with him. He usually comes to my house to discuss his business regarding his [interest in the] post of Football Director [in the Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development]. I can’t talk about economic issues of this country with him. He should be saying other issues not that [one],” Gondwe said.
Meanwhile, Kinnah has, despite joining UTM, said he is still waiting for the government to offer him the post.
Sports Minister, Francis Kasaila and his Information and Civic Education counterpart, Nicholas Dausi, were not readily available for a comment yesterday.