Flames coach Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) has said the absence of some key players has forced him to include five uncapped players in the final squad for Tuesday’s international friendly match against Uganda’s Cranes in Kampala.
The five are Be Forward Wanderers defending midfielder and captain Alfred Manyozo Jnr, winger Felix Zulu, the Nomads’ reserve side defender Precious Sambani and Nyasa Big Bullets duo of midfielder Righteous Banda and blossoming forward Patrick Phiri.
They are part of the 29-member squad that flew out of the country yesterday afternoon to Nairobi, Kenya en route to Kampala.
The squad includes 21 players and eight officials.
“We had to find suitable replacements for players such as injured [Frank] ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango, Chikoti Chirwa who is away for Malawi Defence Force [MDF] duties and also Atusaye Nyondo.
“Then we also do not have Robert Ng’ambi and Gerald Phiri Jnr who asked to be excused so that they concentrate on their club which is fighting relegation [in the South African Premier Soccer League],” he said.
Nevertheless, RVG believes the inclusion of the uncapped players could be a blessing in disguise because it provides them a chance to prove their worth.
“We should always be ready for such eventualities when you cannot have all the players you need due to other circumstances.
“The expectations are high from them [rookies] because it is a big challenge for those that could be given a chance to play on Tuesday,” he said.
The Flames mentor said having trained with the senior team for a while, “I am confident that they are ready for the challenge”.
On his part, Manyozo—who was named 2017 TNM Super League best midfielder—said he is hoping to get his debut against the Cranes.
“This is the nearest that I have come to playing for the national team and I am hoping to get a chance. I have waited for such an opportunity and now it is within touching distance,” he said.
The following is the full squad: Players: Charles Swini, Brightone Munthali, John Lanjesi, Chembezi Dennis, Limbikani Mzava (C), Gomezgani Chirwa, Sambani, Yamikani Fodya, John and Frank Banda, Dalitso Sailesi, Manyozo, Rafiq Namwera, Zulu, Righteous Banda, Robin Ngalande, Richard Mbulu, Chawanangwa Kawonga, Chiukepo Msowoya and Phiri; Officials: Othaniel Hara (team leader); RVG (head coach); Peter Mponda (assistant coach); Franco Ndawa (assistant coach); Swadick Sanudi (goalkeeper trainer); James Sangala (team manager); Chikondi Mandalasi (physiotherapist); Gift Ligomeka (doctor). n