National team coach Kinnah Phiri is expected to work on the weaknesses pointed out in the year 2012 if the performance of the Flames is to improve.
It was the year that Malawi Flames fans accused Kinnah of poor selection of players because he rarely watched local football league which contributes a lot of players to the national team.
The Weekend Times issue of April 20-22, reported that the accusations arose because of the inconsistent call-ups which were characterised by players who were not even playing for their clubs like Lesley Tamutamu, Hellings Mwakasungula and Sibusiso Padambo.
Other professional players were also being picked for the national team duty despite not playing for their foreign clubs.
The critics in 2012 also pointed out that Kinnah's decisions were sometimes influenced by the media because he did not have proper system of accessing the players.
But in his defence, Kinnah pointed out that he wanted to encourage Super League coaches to scout and recommend players for the national team.
"The grooming of national team players is not just up to national team coaches but the clubs as well. I want the coaches to be involved in identification and grooming of the players for the Flames. The national team belongs to all of us as such it requires a collective responsibility," he said.
Kinnah said that he wanted to improve his working relationship with Super League teams in the new season because some players did not get game time after national team call up.
The need for Flames' depth to improve in 2013
In 2012, there were growing concerns over The Flames' lack of depth. According to the story carried out in The Weekend Times of April 6-8, the national team coach indicated that he wanted to recruit more players for the three crucial qualifying matches in June against Kenya, Nigeria and Chad.
By then The Flames were in a very precarious situation as they were to play three consecutive games in 14 days in the preliminary of the 2013 Africa Cup qualifiers and World Cup group stages.
Commentators, including the seasoned coach Charles Manda, said it was difficult for the Flames to play three tough matches in 14 days hence urged Kinnah Phiri to come up with a better strategy for the team to be successful. This observation caught Kinnah's attention who said he would call up a big squad in preparation for the games.
"I am aware of the situation and have already devised a plan where we are going to have two players for each position so that others should be rested if necessary in order for the team to be fresh and competitive," said the Flames mentor.
Player contracts row
The welfare of players in Malawi is a cause for concern and the year 2012 witnessed several contract rows between clubs and players.
Some clubs dumped their players unceremoniously despite several years of service.
Despite dumping the players, the clubs refused to release them to join other clubs. Super League of Malawi (Sulom) observed that lack of contracts for Super League players was unprofessional. There was no reference by the players as clubs refused to meet the obligations which are normally included in a normal contract.
Sulom General Secretary Williams Banda told The Weekend Times of March 16-18, that there were increasing cases of local players who were stranded after disagreeing with their clubs as there were no contracts which could serve as a reference.
He was quoted as saying: "Most clubs just fire players through word of mouth and when the players try to move on to another club the teams start demanding transfer fees."