On March 6, 2021, Manfred Hoener, one of Malawi’s longest serving technical director succumbed to heart failure related illness in his native country Germany, aged 79, sending the country’s football fraternity into deep sorrow.
Hoener is credited for laying the strong foundation for the country’s football while serving as technical director for the junior Flames U-17, U-20, U-21 and U-23.
Apart from taking the junior Flames U-20 to COSAFA semi-finals, Manfred together with late Davie Mpesi and Alex Masanjala were the only coaches that managed to take the junior Flames U-20 to their only Afcon final appearance in Ghana in 1999.
The incumbent FAM President Walter Nyamilandu is a product of Manfred Hoener alongside several other celebrated football stars.
Hoener’s death is such devastating news to the country’s FA and the entire football fraternity, Nyamilandu said of his former mentor in statement.
The FAM President said Manfred, while serving as Junior Flames U-17, U-20 and U-23 technical director, contributed beyond measure to Malawi’s football development.
He said: “Manfred selflessly used his personal resources in his quest to see the game grow. He single handily took the junior flames to Europe where they participated in the prestigious Dana cup tournament in Denmark, Swedish’s Gothia Cup and a training session in Germany ahead of the team’s international tournaments.
“I’m a product of Manfred Hoener and so are the likes of Esau Kanyenda, Peter Mponda, Chikondi Banda, James Chimera Jnr, Fischer Kondowe, Andrew Chikhosi, Robert Baggio Ng’ambi, George Sangala, Dan Chitsulo, Amos Jere, Alick Kusapali, and Gift Zakazaka just to mention but a few.
Most of these players ended up playing overseas or in South Africa and were instrumental to the Flames qualification at the 2010 Afcon final.”
Nyamilandu concluded by acknowledging that Manfred will sadly be missed by the country’s football fraternity not just as a coach but also as a highly regarded true friend to Malawian football.
Edington Ng’onamo who worked with Manfred Hoener alongside Sir Alex Masanjala in the late 90’s said the fallen coach committed all he had towards the development of football in the country adding it was therefore not surprising to see many of the players that he trained flourishing.
“He was a very good man and a good coach. He donated most of the football equipment such as uniforms and boots that were used by both senior national football team and the junior flames.
He is the man that developed football here in Malawi. We did very well in football because of Manfred Hoener and it’s really sad to hear that he has passed on”, Ng’onamo mourned.
Former Flames skipper Peter Mjojo Mponda has described Hoener’s death as sad news to Malawi’s football fraternity calling him of the finest and committed coaches the country’s national team has ever had.
Mponda said: “He was someone who was very disciplined and serious about his job. Off the field, Hoener was a father figure work. Whenever we had problems, we were going to him.
“He’s the man who took almost all us to Europe. Without him, I think most of us wouldn’t have the exposure that we had.
Most of the players that took Malawi to Angola 2010 Afcon final were his products because he trained a great number of the players at U-17’s or U-18’s.
He is the one who was serious about classic football. I think he changed the face of Malawi football. Yes we can talk about some coaches who achieved something after him but I will be honest with you, he’s a man who laid the foundation.
Fischer Kondowe concurs with Mponda by stressing that Hoener’s passion towards the growth of grass roots football led to the strong showing of the Flames in the Afcon qualifiers ahead of the 2010 Angola Afcon final.
He said: “Manfred Hoener was a coach with a winning mentality. Had the system at Football Association preserved his football philosophy, Malawi could be way too far in terms of football standards.
He has left a behind a lasting legacy here in Malawi.”