Five out of six foreign-based Flames players will arrive two days before the mid-week 2021 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against South Sudan next Wednesday due to club commitments.
Flames coach Meck Mwase has maintained six foreign-based players—stand in captain John ‘CJ’ Banda, Yamikani Chester, Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango, Gerald Phiri Jnr, Richard Mbulu and Robin Ngalande.
However, only Chester joined the squad on Monday for the qualifiers set for Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
The rest of the players will join the squad next Monday, according to team manager James Sangala.
South Africa-based Baroka FC’s Phiri Jnr and Mbulu, who were playing Mamelodi Sundowns yesterday, have a league game against Polokwane City this Saturday.
Azerbaijan-based striker Ngalande is also held up by his side Zira IK FC’s fixture against Qarabag FK on Sunday.
Gabadinho, who is slowly getting settled at Orlando Pirates, cannot afford to miss the Soweto derby against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday.
Stand-in captain CJ Banda’s Mozambique club UD Songo will play Clube Desportivo de Nacala on Sunday.
Sangala said though they have no qualms with the players reporting on Monday, their major fear is injuries.
“We have no problems with the foreign-based players reporting on Monday. These are experienced players. The players know what is expected of them and the coaches also know the players’ capabilities because they perform at high level.
“In terms of coordination, we also have no problems because they [foreign-based players] have been with the team for while. That’s why we also had them last month when we played a friendly against Lesotho.
“But our worry is on them playing this weekend when we have a game on Wednesday. We fear that they may pick injuries. We just hope this doesn’t not happen,” he said.
Banda also expressed worry about joining the team on Monday.
“It doesn’t work well for us to join the team two days before the match. But there is nothing we can do,” he said.
Though rules and regulations stipulate that clubs have an obligation to release players five days before matches on Fifa international date, this time the date start two days before the Flames game.
“This time, the Fifa international dates starts on Monday, November 11 and ends on November 19. Its contradictory because though clubs are supposed to release the players five days before the match, the window is starting two days before our match,” he said.