Five foreign-based players arrived in the country yesterday ahead of Friday’s dead-rubber 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Malawi’s Flames Morocco’s Atlas Lions on Friday.
The five are South Africa-based Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango and Gerald Phiri, Binwell Katinji based in e-Swathini (formerly Swaziland and Mozambique-based duo John ‘CJ’ Banda and Stain Dave.
Mhango, Phiri and Katinji arrived through Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe while Banda and Dave travelled by road.
The Flames team manager James Sangala said United States-based midfielder Yamikani Chester will arrive tomorrow.
“His team [North Carolina] had a game last night and, therefore, he will only be back at his base today [yesterday],” he said.
The Flames are scheduled to start preparations for the match this morning in Lilongwe and coach Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) has named a 23-member squad which excludes some senior players, including South Africa-based captain Limbikani Mzava.
Other notable faces left out are goalkeeper Charles Swini, midfielder Robin Ngalande, strikers; Chiukepo Msowoya, Gastin Simkonda and Richard Mbulu.
However, RVG justified their exclusion last week, saying: “As I said, it is time to look to the future, the old players had their time and time is now ripe to switch focus to the youngsters.
“Of course, we have included some older players such as ‘CJ’ and John Lanjesi to provide guidance to the youngsters as their experience is vital, otherwise it is dominated by players that are just above 23 or 24 years old.”
The Flames anchor Group B with four points, six behind leaders Morocco. Reigning African champions Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions are second with eight points going into their last match against Comoros, who are second from the bottom in the four team group with five points.
The Flames will host Morocco at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.