Former English Premier League club Leeds United’s reserve side forward Henri Kumwenda has been drafted into the Flames squad for assessment ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Cameroon next month.
The 20-year-old, who is now based in the US where he plays for an intercollegiate Indianapolis-based side Butler Bulldogs, arrived in the country on Tuesday.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu said the player will be part of the Flames squad expected to depart for Saudi Arabia camping tomorrow.
He said: “We have been in talks with him since his days at Leeds United two years ago where he made headlines following his impressive performance, which led to his promotion to the reserve side.
“During the Saudi Arabia camping, he will be assessed by technical director [Marian Mario Marinica] and his backroom staff to determine whether he can make the final Afcon finals squad.
“He seems to be a prolific young striker and it is worth giving him a trial.”
Before his recent move to the US college side, Kumwenda spent a season at English second-tier Championship side Hull City’s reserves.
Kumwenda could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
But early last year, he told The Nation in an interview that he had not thought about playing for the Malawi national team.
This was after he scored six goals in five games for Leeds’ youth side, including a hat-trick against Blackpool which led to his instant promotion to the reserve side.
He was quoted as having said: “I am not thinking about playing for the Malawi national team at the moment.
“I have a lot of work to do so that I grow in the game.”
But Nyamilandu then insisted that they would try to convince the youngster to play for Malawi.
Born in Malawi, he moved to United Kingdom as a child with his parents and had been with Leeds academy since the age of 11 where he made a name.
Meanwhile, Nyamilandu has said Scotland-based left-back Kieran Ngwenya has ruled himself out of the Afcon finals.
He said: “There have been so many excuses from him. At first, he said he had just joined a new team and wanted to secure his position.
“Then there was also an issue about Covid-19 because when he came for the Tanzania friendly match, he tested positive for the virus on arrival in Scotland. So, since then, his parents have been skeptical about him coming for national duty.
“And now he says he is nursing a groin injury.”
Ngwenya made an impressive debut for the Flames against Tanzania in Dar es Salaam where he was named man-of-the-match, but has not played for the Flames since that time.
The Flames lost the match 2-0.
FAM has said a detailed programme of the Flames’ camping in Riyad, Saudi Arabia, will be announced today complete with the full list of the travelling squad.
The Flames are expected to camp in Saudi Arabia for two weeks before proceeding to Cameroon for Afcon finals.
Malawi are in Group B alongside Senegal’s Teranga Lions, Guinea’s Syli Nationale and Zimbabwe’s Warriors. The Flames first assignment will be against Guinea on January 10. The tournament will run from January 9 to February 6.