National football association president Walter Nyamilandu wanted Mtawali, a creative midfielder two decades ago, to assist a foreign coach. But the Malawian sports ministry, which pays the national coach, said they lacked the funds necessary to entice an outsider.
"We have tried and tested most of the (Malawian) coaches and the remaining ones will not be good enough for us to find the right candidate," Nyamilandu told the BBC before Mtawali was chosen. "The job is very demanding and the expertise is very rare locally. When you settle for less the outcome is never desirable."
An even tougher task for the 48-year-old coach will be reaching for the group phase of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifying competition. Should Malawi overcome first-round opponents Tanzania during October, they must tackle No 1-ranked African team Algeria a month later.
Malawi, who have reached the Cup of Nations tournament twice, are ranked 30th in Africa and 108th in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. The new coach will be assisted by Burundian Nsanzurwimo Ramadhan, handler of Malawian champions Big Bullets. Possessing an abundance of crowd-pleasing skills, Mtawali featured for clubs in South Africa, Argentina, France and Saudi Arabia.