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Page last updated at 15:00 GMT, Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Malawi coach Kinnah Phiri rewarded with new contract

By Piers Edwards
BBC Sport, Luanda, Angola

Malawi's coach Kinnah Phiri gives instructions to his players
Phiri is part of a "winning formula" says the Malawi FA president

Malawi coach Kinnah Phiri will be offered an extension to his contract when it expires in May, the country's football association has announced.

Phiri has turned around Malawi's footballing fortunes since taking charge in May 2008.

He has led the Flames to only their second Africa Cup of Nations finals.

On Monday they recorded their first-ever victory in the competition - a shock 3-0 win over fancied World Cup qualifiers Algeria.

Malawi, Fifa's lowest ranked team in the competition, upset the formbook by thumping the Desert Foxes in both teams' opening Group A clash.

"I wouldn't be so stupid as to give him away," Walter Nyamilandu, the president of the Malawian FA (Fam), told BBC Sport.

"We have tried all sorts of coaches - both ex-pats and local coaches - but we feel this is a winning formula and that we need to maintain it.

"Kinnah has done wonders for us and is a treasure to the nation."

As well as managing the team, Phiri also represented his country as a player in the 1970s.

Phiri, who has steered the Flames from 136th to 99th in the Fifa rankings, hopes his side can overcome hosts Angola on Thursday and Mali on Monday to reach a maiden quarter-finals.

If I retired today I would be sure that I did something for the development of Malawian football

Kinnah Phiri

And although he is keen to continue in his role, he says he can now retire a happy man after Monday's historic victory, which sparked extensive celebrations back home.

"I am very proud, because I don't think I've disappointed the Malawian people since I took over," Phiri said.

"There might have been times when things weren't going well but I stood firm, tried my best to bring the team back to normal and I'm sure we are now on the right track.

"If I retired today I would be sure that I did something for the development of Malawian football."

The coach, who has previously headed up clubs in both Malawi and South Africa, is wonderfully relaxed about the Flames' tournament aims following Monday's win in Luanda.

"We want to go as far as possible," he says.

"We wouldn't mind getting into the quarters or semis, but we are not looking very far as we are not an ambitious team and we are not playing under pressure.

"This is our first Nations Cup participation in over 25 years and we don't know how other teams prepare for the second round or the semis, so we are learning."

Malawi currently top Group A with three points, two more than Mali and hosts Angola while Algeria are bottom with no points.

The teams will be in action again on Thursday when comeback heroes Mali take on Algeria, and hosts Angola play Malawi.

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see also
Malawi 3-0 Algeria
11 Jan 10 |  African
Africa Cup of Nations fixtures
07 Jan 10 |  African
Africa Cup of Nations tables
07 Jan 10 |  African

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