Flames coach Ronny Van Geneugden’s (RVG) plan of having a strong squad at the forthcoming Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Cup has hit a snag after foreign clubs demanded the return of their players.
The Belgian wants all players called for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Comoros at the Cosafa Cup in order for them to get used to his football philosophy.
However, South African clubs Bidvest Wits and Platinum Stars have recalled their players Gabadinho Mhango and Gerald Phiri Jnr respectively for pre-season training.
Initially, Mozambique clubs gave a green light for Frank Banda and Charles Swini (HB Songo) and John Banda (Ferroviario de Nampula) to join the Flames’ Cosafa Cup squad.
However, they too had a sudden change of heart and recalled the trio to report to their respective clubs. The trio were expected to return to Mozambique yesterday afternoon.
But speaking at a press briefing yesterday, Geneugden said he was confident that Mhango, Phiri and Robert Ng’ambi would be allowed to join the team.
The coach said: “It will be a big surprise if the clubs don’t release the players because South Africa is the organising country and they would do anything possible to make sure the countries that are playing in Cosafa Cup have teams as strong as possible.
“The organisers also want the stadiums to be full during the tournament as people come to watch the top players. I can’t believe this is happening. If the competition was happening in another country, it would have made sense. But this tournament is happening in South Africa. They are hosting the tournament.”
He, however, said in the event that the players are not available, he still has other players to replace them.
“We have some plans,” he said.
Team manager James Sangala confirmed the foreign clubs’ position, but said they were keeping fingers crossed that the South African clubs will soften up.
He said: “As you heard the coach wants all the players for the Cosafa Cup. But the clubs want their players. But we are still talking with them. Let’s just hope at the end of the day they will soften up.”
Malawi was knocked out in group stages at the 2016 edition of the Cosafa Cup held in Namibia. South Africa are defending champions.n