Joseph Kamwendo may be on the brink of joining an exclusive band of Malawi players with 100 caps, the Flames captain and a researcher confirmed ahead of tomorrow’s match against Zimbabwe.
The TP Mazembe midfielder on Wednesday said the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group L qualifier at Kamuzu Stadium has added personal significance on the caps which are a count of competitive national team games one has played.
“I am one game away from 100 caps. It feels great because this game has given me things I could have never imagined. I am still enjoying myself and I do not intend to retire anytime soon. Reaching this milestone is something I will never forget,” he explained.
Asked how precise he was with his statistics, Kamwendo said every time he plays for the Flames he ticks in his note book and put goals he has scored at six, a number which is slightly different from that of United Kingdom-based Malawian football researcher Mario Antoine.
The researcher indicated seven goals for Kamwendo who has more than six games needing verification if he played in them. If he did, he could have over 100 caps.
“According to my records, he is on 96 caps. There are a couple of queries that he might confirm whether he played in those fixtures or we can start deleting if he thinks he did not feature in that game.
There are only seven players according to my data that have won 100 caps,” said Antoine, who has done his research for over 20 years.
More caps can signify that one worked hard for country as it is not easy to play at the top level for a long time. There are no official caps records at FAM, but facility and transfer matching system manager Casper Jangale is doing such research which is not yet conclusive.
According to Antoine, a former Darts Association of Malawi (DAM) official, in Malawi’s unofficial football history, the only players to win 100 caps are Flames coach Young Chimodzi (156), his deputy Jack Chamangwana (132), Harry Waya (deceased) and Lawrence Waya (both at 126), Kinnah Phiri (115), late Jonathan Billie (109) and Gilbert Chirwa (102).
Chamangwana said it was not easy in his era to hit the 100 caps as games were few since the national team participated in few international events.
“In those days, lifespan of players was very short averaging five years and to hit 100 shows that one was really consistent and dedicated. I am not surprised that Kamwendo is getting there. He plays with his heart. He has the attitude of our generation, playing for passion and not for money,” said the former national team captain.
Former Flames captain Peter Mponda is another player who could have been capped a 100 times, depending on other games, the researcher is yet to verify.
“The only other player that could have possibly reached 100 is Peter Mponda whose record I have as being 97, but again subject to confirmation of matches that he could have featured. I think that this could be interesting news for Malawi soccer. He could either be playing his 100th game if at least three of the queries are turned into actual games he has played,” Antoine added.