Flames coach Kinnah Phiri has for the first time spoken out against allegations that he favours players from the North, saying he selects players on merit.
For a long time, the coach has been criticised, especially in social media networks, that he gives priority to players from the North.
On Facebook pages on local football, TNM Super League Mpira ku Malawi and Underground Soccer, some people have, to an extent, labelled the Flames as the ‘North National Team’.
They say the Flames do not do well because they are a regional team and not a national one as some best players are left out because they are not from the North.
But Kinnah said he is a professional and selects in-form players.
“I am a coach who is mindful about getting results. So why would I pick a player from the North who is not better than others from other regions, do I want to win?
“I select players who are the best the whole country for their respective positions at that particular time. That is why players do not have a permanent place in the Flames because it is a national team. One’s current form determines his selection into the squad,” said Kinnah.
He said he can even call a team of players from one district if they are the best in the country.
“I do not think we should deny someone an opportunity to play in the Flames even if they are skilled just because they are from the North or come from Blantyre or anywhere.
“We should remember national team is about players of that nationality, in this case Malawians,” he said.
Kinnah also said the Flames’ recent poor showing is due to poor preparations and lack of training games.
“But on top of that, we should be mindful that we are building a new team with a number of new faces having changed our tactical approach of using more local players.
“Look at Egypt, they were three-time back-to-back Afcon Champions, but when the old players retired, they have failed to qualify for Afcon twice as the young players are still learning. But they will be strong soon and we are also moving in the same direction,” said Kinnah.