TNM Super League’s leading scorers have failed to break into the Flames’ final squad that will face Cameroon and Mozambique in 2022 Qatar Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
Silver Strikers forward Maxwell Gastin Phodo tops the scorers’ list with 13 goals followed by Nyasa Big Bullets’ Hassan Kajoke who has netted 12.
Notable names in the top 20 bracket include Stain Dave (11), Lloyd Njaliwa (10), Muhammad Sulumba (nine), China Chirwa (seven) and Zicco Mkanda (eight).
But Flames coach Meck Mwase has opted for Mighty Wanderers’ Vincent Nyangulu, who has four league goals, in the squad that will face Cameroon in Yaounde tomorrow.
Nyangulu will compete for a place with South Africa-based Baroka FC forward Richard Mbulu, Orlando Pirates striker Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango and Polokwane City’s Khuda Muyaba.
Mwase said in an interview that he had gone for the best both locally and internationally.
Football analyst Kevin Moyo said he was not surprised by the coach’s decision to shun the 20 top scorers.
He said: “Most of the players on the Super League top 20 scorers have not gone through the proper developmental structures and it is always difficult to throw them into the deep end at this level.
“Players such as Bob Mpinganjira, Andrew Chikhosi and Aggrey Kanyenda had a similar problem of performing domestically and not replicating the same form internationally.”
Moyo said the problem is further compounded by TNM Super League clubs not giving a chance to up-and-coming players who can represent the country better.
He said: “The coaches do not trust up-and-coming players. They would rather concentrate on veterans. The fear of losing jobs is the main contributing factor. We have a lot of talent which gets frustrated for lack of game time and quit football altogether.
“Former Flames coach RVG [Ronny Van Geneugden] had Peter Banda, Chimwemwe Idana, Charles Petro called to the senior team when the lads were still with the lower leagues. Today, they are the Flames stars.”
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) youth and technical subcommittee chairperson Tiya Somba-Banda also had no kind words for TNM Super League clubs.
He said: “We need to bridge this gap otherwise Malawi football will not grow. Most of the coaches do not believe in giving a chance to young players.
“They are comfortable with sticking to tried and tested players who are getting tired, hoping that they will produce magic in the twilight of their careers.
“Performance of the teams is affected due to lack of creativity, energy and low productivity. This mentality of sidelining youngsters has to change. We have to progress because the future lies with the youth,” he said.
Somba Banda, who is also Super League of Malawi (Sulom) president, also agreed that this has a spin-off in the national team, once the veterans are picked despite them doing well at club level.
The Sulom president cited TNM Super League clubs’ shunning the Under-20 National Championship held in Mangochi over the weekend as a good example of how the top-flight sides lignore up-and-coming players.
He said: “As Sulom president, I am disappointed that none of the 16 teams sent their representatives to witness the event where we had 80 players on display.
“We know that Super League clubs are busy with matches, but at least they could have sent scouts, but they didn’t. This just shows they are not serious with youth development. Most of them don’t even have vibrant reserves or youth teams.”
Nyasa Big Bullets, Silver Strikers and Mighty Wanderers are the only clubs with vibrant youth teams.