Malawi National Football Team, the Flames captain John CJ Banda has thrown his weight behind head of technical panel Mario Marinica’s direct football style of play which has been criticized for lacking flair.
Despite guiding Malawi to a crucial 2-1 victory over Ethiopia in the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 Group D opener at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe on Sunday, the Romanian tactician has come under criticism from some football fans who argue that his philosophy is denying them entertaining football.
Unlike in the past when Malawi employed a pass-and-support style of play mostly in their half, Mario has opted for long passes into the final third where the Flames are effective in creating chances and ended up winning two penalties converted by AmaZulu striker Gabadinho Mhango.
In that match, the visitors dominated the match stats. Ethiopia enjoyed massive possession at 73 percent against the Flames’ 27 percent. The visitors completed 658 passes while Malawi only had 252.
They were also superior in completed passes as they had 83 percent accuracy while Malawi had 63 percent.
The two sides tied at 13 shots on goal but the Flames had five out of those on target while Ethiopia only had two.
Banda, who is sitting in for injured captain Limbikani Mzava, said they players are happy with the coach’s style of play.
“We know supporters are used to us playing entertaining football. But 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,” said Banda
In pre-match interview before facing Ethiopia, Mario outlined his philosophy of ‘fast and very fast football’ saying Malawi’s previous style of play was ineffective.
The Romanian said: “If I remember well, there was a lot of passing for example against Cameroon in World Cup qualifier 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.”