Flames assistant coach Lovemore Fazili has defended tomorrow’s international friendly against Zambia, saying although foreign-based professionals will be absent, the match will still have an impact on their preparations for 2021 Afcon qualifiers against Burkina Faso.
He was reacting to The Nation’s inquest on how the friendly against the Chipolopolo would help the Flames tune-up for the back-to-back games against Burkina Faso considering that the team travelled to Lusaka yesterday with only local-based players when over 10 foreign-based players have been earmarked for the Burkina Faso matches.
In an interview before the 20-player local-based squad left the country yesterday, Fazili said the friendly is useful as they are not certain that all the foreign-based players will be fit or available ahead of the Afcon encounters against The Stallions.
He said, in football, anything can happen and they have to always be on their toes.
“As of now, we are not sure if all the foreign-based players will join us. There might be issues of injuries, game time or the players not being released by their respective clubs,” Fazili said.
“Therefore, the local-based squad has to be fully prepared just in case and the friendly against Zambia is ideal in this aspect.”
He added that it is not a guarantee that just because one is a foreign-based player, then he will make it into the final squad for The Stallions’ encounters.
“In the local-based squad, we have talented players, who can match or even surpass the qualities of some foreign-based stars and they just need international exposure to be ready for Afcon qualifiers,” he said.
“Apart from that, there are some local-based players that might be guaranteed slots in the Afcon qualifiers’ line-ups and they need to be refined on the international stage before they can be mixed with the foreign legion.”
A fortnight ago, head coach Meck Mwase hinted at including South Africa-based players Limbikani Mzava, Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango, Gerald Phiri Jnr, Richard Mbulu, Chembezi Denis and Chawanangwa Kaonga; USA-based Yamikani Chester, Azerbaijan-based Robin Ngalande, Moldova-based Charles Petro, Georgia-based Francisco Madinga and Mozambique-based John Banda and Schumacher Kuwali in the squad for the Afcon qualifiers.
In the local-based squad that has travelled to Zambia, there are six players that do not have caps. They are Foster Bitoni, Vincent Nyangulu, Rabson Chienda, Hadji Wali, Nickson Nyasulu and Isaac Kaliati.
Former Flames coach Yasin Osman yesterday said the Zambia friendly will widen the base from which the national team technical panel will pick the final squad for the Afcon qualifiers.
“Most locally-based players have not been given enough exposure to get rid of tension and know how to approach an opposition team on the international stage. The Zambia match will help such players to be matured,” he said. However, football analyst