The uncertainty surrounding the country’s most famous fixture, the Blantyre derby, has been cleared after Flames coach Ernest Mtawali gave in and reluctantly allowed national team players to be released for this weekend’s Super League matches.
The Flames leave Sunday for Tanzania for the 2018 World Cup preliminary round qualifier against the hosts on October 7 and Mtawali is afraid that the players could get injured in the most anticipated domestic fixture.
But rivals Big Bullets and Mighty Be Forward Wanderers insisted they would not play if the Flames mentor clings to their players.
After discussions with Football Association of Malawi (FAM), Super League of Malawi (Sulom) general secretary Williams Banda said the coach would release the players.
“An agreement has been reached. The players will be released on Thursday [today] to play for their clubs in Saturday fixtures and they will rejoin the Flames squad on Sunday. Arrangements will be made so that by Sunday, the players should be with the squad in Lilongwe. So, the game is on,” Banda said in an interview yesterday.
“It’s simple. It does not make sense that we should stop the players from playing in Super League when even the foreign-based players in South Africa and Mozambique will be playing for their clubs the same day,” Banda said.
FAM general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda could neither confirm nor deny that the agreement was reached.
Nyirenda said the travelling squad and all the logistics regarding the Flames would be announced today.
“I am not responding to anything to do with the national team. All matters relating to the national team will be announced at a press briefing on Thursday [today],” Nyirenda said in an interview yesterday.
Mtawali yesterday refused to comment on the issue and referred the matter to team manager Clement Kafwafwa who, in turn, referred the issue to FAM.
However, both Bullets and Wanderers also confirmed having been assured that they would have their players for the derby.
Bullets won the first encounter 2-1 and the defending champions lead the Super League table with 38 points from 16 games.
Blue Eagles follow at a distance with 29 points from 16 games while Silver Strikers are third with same points but with an inferior aggregate.
Azam Tigers are fourth with 29 points as well while Wanderers are on seventh position with 26 points.