A game against Guinea was a real check for Marinica’s philosophy that says “Fast and very fast style of play,” and indeed the system emerges unsuccessful to our Football in Malawi.
Perhaps, is it too early to judge the Romanian?
Mario Marinica holds the UEFA Pro Licence, the highest football coaching qualification.
He has coached at Romanian clubs Rapid București, Gloria Buzău, Sportul Studenţesc, Argeş Piteşti, Rocar București, and Cimentul Fieni.
He has also coached at Kerala Blasters in India, Azam F.C. in Tanzania, Black Leopards in South Africa, Zakho FC in Iraq, and Kaposvári Rákóczi FC in Hungary.
In England, he has worked at Crystal Palace FC and Arsenal FC’s Academies as well as Leyton Orient FC’s School of Excellence.
His playing career included spells at Rocar București, Dinamo București and Steaua București.
Despite that impressive Curriculum Vitae, the 57-year old Manager seems to have been exposed in Malawi.
Marinica was initially roped in as a Technical Panel by Football Association of Malawi back in 2021. He signed a three-year contract.
Over 13 both Local and foreign Coaches applied for the post of TD but the association went for the Romanian.
However, Fam Announced Marinica as a temporary Head Coach who would led Flames at the delayed 2021 African Cup of Nations finals played in Cameroon earlier this year.
In Cameroon, Flames reached the round of 16 in the competition for the first time in it’s history after finishing third in their group that comprised of Senegal, Guinea and Zimbabwe.
It was this performance that dragged Fam to the fate of making him the permanent manager firing Meke Mwase who helped the team to qualify for that finals after finishing second in the group that comprised of Burkina Faso, Uganda and South Sudan.
Ironically, at the Afcon Finals in Cameroon, Meke Mwase was the incharge of the team in two games as Marinica was in isolation after tested positive to Corona Virus.
Malawi lost the first game against Guinea before coming from behind to beat Zimbabwe 2-1 in the second game. Surprisingly, the performance was not this we are witnessing now.
Flames were able to control the game in midfield, playing passing football unlike nowadays, as players are just busy chasing their own shadows in the field of play.
Marinica, then tested negative to Covid19 and he was the in-charge when Malawi played Senegal in a game that ended 0-0.
Few Malawians praised the mentor but some with vision eyes saw the impuissance in his system of play.
Then Flames played against Morocco in the round of 16. To the blithely of Malawians, Flames took the lead inside first 10 minutes of the game as Gabadinho Mhango scored an imperious goal.
But we sensed nothing to come thereafter. Flames started sitting back, defending while the game is in premature stage.
No wonder the North African giants equalised and found the winner, Flames came back home empty-handed.
Fans praised Flames and the coach, but may be they had a monocular vision.
To the surprise, Fam discharged Mwase of his duty and replace him with “Fast and very fast football” at its executive quarterly meeting held in Mangochi on April 10.
Football analysts, Pilirani Kachinziri of Times Sports Group to be specific, said in Sports 360 programme, ” Fam have made a big mistake. This Coach knows nothing about football. He won’t take us anywhere. “
Mario was also handed a role of head coach for Malawi U23 when they participated in the Antalya Cup in Turkey.
Marinica urged Junior Flames to replicate Seniors’ performance at Afcon.
Marinica made the remarks at Chileka International Airport in Blantyre before they left for a tri-nation tournament.
“We want to produce more players like Peter Banda and Charles Petro who are exposed to international football. We also want to produce players for the Olympic Games and also Africa Nations Championship. So we are looking at under-17, 18, 20, 21 and 22 players,” he said.
Yes, the junior Flames replicated Seniors’ system of play and run. No wonder his system faced a real check as Togo U23 hammered the Marinica-led Junior Flames by three goals to nill. The performance was unconvincing too.
The Malawi Guardian have been following the Romanian since he jetted in Malawi.
Those behind Marinica, were saying Malawi had improved in term of results and they appealed for more time for the tactician before we start criticising him.
His tactical failure was witnessed by even toddlers at the full studded-Bingu National Stadium against Ethiopia in Flames’ Afcon opener that they unconvincingly won 2-1 with all of those goals came from spot. The team’s performancewas below par.
The visitors dominated the game from the first whistle to the last whistle. No chance creation, no passing football, failing to control the midfield, no pressing.
The visitors had a possession of 72% while Flames had 28%.
After the game, Charles Nyirenda one of the renowned Football Analysts warned Marinica to work on his play and fielding as the team was preparing to face Guinea four days later.
Former Flames Head Coach, Kinnah Phiri, Pilirani Kachinziri, Parley Chinyama, and Malawi to a large extent all appealed for a change in the ailing performance.
However, the Romanian replied the criticism by recalling Flames previous games saying the team was playing good football but with no results.
“If I remember well, there was a lot of passing for example against Cameroon in World Cup qualifiers there were about 410 passes and out of that, there was no shot on target, no shot at goal. So yes there is no entertainment in terms of passing quality.
“But we need to get points we need to get results. And we have to do that based on the players and the opponents we face. So at the end of the day, as they say, there are horses for courses, so we try to do with what we have and according to opponents that we face,” said Marinica
So too Flames in-stand Captain, CJ John Banda threw his Coach behind his back as he echoed Marinica’ssentiment.
He said: “Entertaining football is not all that good if you don’t get results. It’s better to play badly and win. What our coaches us, we will stick to that. We are just drivers under instructions and the coach is the instructor. We follow what he says.”
Going into the game against Guinea, Marinica turned deaf ears to the warnings and suggestions, nothing changed in the starting Xi, formation and even performance.
Flames were outclassed in the entire minutes of the game. It was lucky not to concede more goals because the hosts were all over the pitch, hence deserved more than that.
Malawi had no dictator in the midfield. A player of Ethiopia’s DM, Panom’s calibre. It was a kick and run football.
Midfield is an association football position.
Midfielders are generally positioned on the pitch between their team’s defenders and forwards. Some midfielders play a strictly-defined defensive role, breaking up attacks, and are otherwise known as defensive midfielders.
Others blur the boundaries, being more mobile and efficient in passing: they are commonly referred to as deep-lying midfielders, play-makers, box-to-box, or holding midfielders.
The number of midfielders on a team and their assigned roles depends on the team’s formation; the collective group of these players on the pitch is sometimes referred to as the midfield.
Unlike Marinica, most managers assign at least one midfielder to disrupt the opposing team’s attacks, while others may be tasked with creating goals, or have equal responsibilities between attack and defence.
Midfielders are the players who typically travel the greatest distance during a match. They arguably have the most possession during a game, and thus they are among the fittest players on the pitch, but that’s not the case with Flames’ midfielders.
After the game, Marinica said the boys didn’t not stick on to his instructions.
Malawi finished the game with a ball possession of 27% while the visitors had 73%.
Flames registered 0 shots on target for the first time in over 10 years. They committed fouls 24 times, picking up 3 yellow Card.
Malawi registered 5 shots off target while Guinea had 13 shots off target.
To the surprise, with these stats, Football Association of Malawi President, Walter Nyamilandu said Flames were close to cause an upset in Conakry. This statement invited a number of reactions from the football supporters.
All comments are against Marinica and his system of play.
Unlike RVG’s era where the team was able able to play an entertaining football and the Association boss nicknamed Malawi as “Barcelona”, nowadays Flames’ players are playing like as if they don’t train.
During the entire Marinica’s tenure since his arrival, we have not been able to see a midfielder, or defender who could start the build up of play from the back.
Marinica’s failure is also highlighted in Chimwemwe Idana and Gerrad Phiri’s play at Flames. Their system of play is not in line with Marinica’s philosophy.
They are all creative midfielders with super vision, they can dictate the game as we witness it at Bullets under Pasuwa as for Idana.
Out of midfield, even the defence doesn’t move. They remain stagnant, thereby inviting pressure from the opposite side. It seems like the defenders are not even taught defending tips.
Keita’s late goal, both defenders and midfielders would have done better under a tactical coach. They crossed the midfield as if we had no players in that position.
Is this Barcelona that we used to know?
Has Fast and very fast Philosophy failed?
Flames have 3 points in the so called Group of Death and they sit second. They will be back in action in September as they will be facing Egypt back to back twice.
If the play will be the same, our quest for the back-to-back Afcon appearance then fades.
Egypt will come hungry as they are coming from a shock defeat against Ethiopia at Bingu National Stadium.