- Chipuwa dropped, Simplex, Gaba back
Flames coach Ernest Mtawali on Thursday named Bloemfontein Celtic striker Gabadinho Mhango and Mozambique-based goalkeeper Simplex Nthala as part of the Flames squad travelling to Tanzania for the 2018 World Cup preliminary round qualifier against Taifa Stars.
The duo’s return to the team means that Nthala has replaced Mighty Be Forward Wanderers keeper Richard Chipuwa while Gabadinho has replaced injured Big Bullets striker Chiukepo Msowoya.
The Flames mentor justified Nthala’s inclusion despite the player having been idle at his Mocambola side Maxaquene after he was handed a one-year ban by the Mozambique FA for allegedly assaulting a referee.
Mtawali said he was confident that Nthala was the solution to problems Malawi faced in a 2-2 draw against Swaziland in Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group L match last month.
“We have a different goalkeeper trainer Swadick Sanudi and at the same time Simplex Nthala who has been training with us for the past seven days. What he has shown is a lot of communication to the on-field players which I think we were lacking,” Mtawali said.
“At the same time, if you look at the number two goalkeeper Brighton Munthali and as I said, we are building this team for the future and he has done well at Under-20 level. We need such players to take over from the senior players.”
Big Bullets’ Dalitso Sayilesi, Miracle Gabeya and Pilirani Zonda have also made the trip together with Fisd Wizards’ Levison Maganizo.
The squad has eight foreign-based players, including Mhango, who returns to the squad after a long absence, Robert Ng’ambi, Chawanangwa Kawonga, Chimango Kayira, Robin Ngalande and captain Limbikani Mzava.
On Ng’ambi, who criticised the coach for not featuring him during the Swaziland match, but has been in top form at his club where he was on target last weekend, Mtawali said he had no grudges with the Platinum Stars midfielder.
“I know a lot of stories have been written about Ng’ambi. He didn’t play games for a long time, but at the moment, he is playing games and he is scoring goals,” the coach said.
“That’s the kind of players we need. We are playing away from home. He has lots of experience. The youngsters will need him. We will have some sessions in Tanzania, then according to the game plan, the ones that fit are going to play. But we are happy he is in the squad. He is our top player.”
The Flames depart on Sunday at 7.30am via Kamuzu International Airport and arrive in Tanzania around 10.30am.
The game will be played on Wednesday at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium from 4pm Tanzania Time (3pm in Malawi).
In a related development, Malawi has dropped five places on Fifa rankings to position 101.
The rankings were released on Thursday. n