Football Association of Malawi (FAM) yesterday made a sudden change of heart on including midfielders Isaac Kaliati and Micium Mhone in the Flames’ African Nations Championship (Chan) squad that faces Madagascar tomorrow.
The development has since left coach Ronny van Geneugden in a fix as he had planned to deploy more attackers in the return leg to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg.
Former Be Forward Wanderers midfielder Kaliati, who has signed a contract with South African Premier Soccer League side Cape Town Stars, was initially in the squad, but he was dropped from the first leg squad.
However, the technical panel recalled Kaliati alongside other players Joseph Kamwendo, Binwell Katinji, Ishmael Thindwa and former Jomo Cosmos midfielder Mhone.
But questions over Mhone and Kaliati’s eligibility in the competition which is strictly for players playing in national leagues, prompted FAM to seek clarification from Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Though CAF was yet to responding to FAM’s request yesterday, general secretary Alfred Gunda yesterday said the association could not take chances.
“We should not have included them. The regulations are clear that a player should have a contract with a local club. For me this is clear and its prudent not to take chances,” he said.
Article 2 of the competition’s rules and regulations state that “African Nations Championship is open to the national representative teams of the associations affiliated to CAF, composed exclusively of national players playing in the national championship”.
Reacting to the upshot coach van Geneugden said the absence of the two players had affected his game plan.
He said: “We have been affected by Kelvin Hanganda’s [knee injury], Micium and Isaac’s ineligibility. We needed more attacking options and it is a big blow,” Geneugden said.
“Though we are lean upfront, I think we still have players to do the job upfront,”he said.
Th coach is now expected to find replacements and will announce his final squad today. n