Flames coach Kinnah Phiri on Tuesday said his focus as the Flames prepare for Saturdayâ€™s 2014 World Cup qualifier against Nigeria is to improve on the blunt striking force.
Kinnah admitted that the Flames are lacking the firepower upfront as observed in their goalless draws against Kenyaâ€™s Harambee Stars and Tanzania.
The Flames mentor also said he has decided to call captain Peter â€˜Mjojoâ€™ Mponda and Silver Strikers winger Peter Pindani in an attempt to beef up the squad in the countdown to Saturdayâ€™s 2014 Group K World Cup qualifier against Nigeria.
“The emphasis will be to improve on attack because I have noted that we do not have a finisher.
“Had it been that Chiukepo was fit and available for the game against Kenya, surely we would have won because Russell [Mwafulirwaâ€™s] final touch was awful. He struggled to press the ball even in one-on-one situations with the goalkeeper,” said Kinnah.
For the past four games, Flames strikers have not been able to score as goals have come from midfielders.
Commenting on the move to call Pindani, Kinnah said: “I have decided to accept calls to include Pindani because he is doing very well on the local scene and we need to strengthen the right wing.
“[Robin] Ngalande struggled to play as a winger against Kenya because he was tightly marked and I also observed that he could not retreat. So, we need to try other combinations and perhaps push him [Ngalande] upfront.”
Kinnah defended his move to feature Ngalande as a winger saying the player himself had told him that at his Spanish club [Atletico Madrid Youth], he sometimes plays as a winger.
“In fact, he was deployed as a winger in last weekâ€™s international friendly match against Tanzania and he did very well, but perhaps since Kenyaâ€™s coach [Francis Kimanzi] watched the game, he saw how effective the boy was and decided to close him down by assigning three players to mark him,” said Kinnah.
Commenting on Mponda, Kinnah said he did not call him for the Kenya game because he thought he was preoccupied with his South African club Santosâ€™ promotion and relegation play-offs.
“What I heard was that their club did not respond to FAMâ€™s initial request to release them and the assumption was that they were busy with the promotion and relegation play-offs. But I hear the play-offs are on hold now.”
Mponda on Tuesday indicated that he would arrive on Wednesday.
Apart from Pindani and Mponda, the Flames have also been joined by defender Harry Nyirenda, midfielder Robert Ngâ€™ambi and Chiukepo who were being drilled by technical adviser Jack Chamangwana.
While hailing the Flames performance against Kenya, some soccer pundits have criticised coach Kinnah Phiri for fielding Ngalande out of position.
Ngalande featured on the right wing where he struggled to play his usual fluent game and had to be substituted for Christopher John Banda.
Lilongwe-based soccer fan Kim Kamau also said it is important that the coach should concentrate on finishing.
“We have a watertight defence, but perhaps the coach needs to concentrate more on attacking especially the finishing aspect. There is also need to use natural wingers other than improvising and the move to call Pindani is timely. Itâ€™s also good that he has called Mponda because he can also play as defending and attacking midfielder, but we do not know in what shape he is” Kamau said.
â€”Flames strikers have not scored in the past four games.
â€”Flames drew 2-2 against China U-22 (midfielders Frank Banda and Joseph Kamwendo scored); drew 0-0 against Tanzania; Drew 1-1 against Zanzibar (Frank Banda scored); Drew 0-0 against Kenya.
â€”The last time a striker scored was in the 2013 Afcon away qualifier against Chad. Flames lost 3-2 and Atusaye Nyondo scored both goals.