Newly appointed Flames interim captain Joseph ‘Shakira’ Kamwendo and striker Zicco Mkanda have been ruled out of Tuesday night’s international friendly match against Botswana’s Zebras.
The match is slated for University of Botswana Stadium from 8pm local time.
The Flames are preparing for Saturday’s 2014 World Cup qualifier against Namibia’s Brave Warriors away in Windhoek whereas the Zebras will also be tuning up for Ethiopia in the same competition.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda confirmed that Kamwendo and Mkanda will not be part of the Flames squad as they are only expected to return to Mozambique Tuesday from Nigeria where they played for their Mozambican side Liga Maculmana in a CAF Confederations Cup.
“The information I have received is that all the other foreign-based players have arrived in Gaborone except for Joseph and Zicco who will only join the squad in Namibia on Wednesday,” said Nyirenda.
However, the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) CEO played down the absence of the duo, saying the Eddington Ng’onamo-led coaching panel still has 18 players available for selection.
Ng’onamo said they will take advantage of Tuesday night’s game to try several combinations and a possible game plan for the Namibia game.
“We would also want to assess the new players such as Lucky Malata, Young Chimodzi Jnr and the two uncapped goalkeepers [Owen Chaima and Richard Chipuwa].
“So, it is a very important game for us as it will be the first one through which we’ll be able to effectively assess the players,” said Ng’onamo.
Meanwhile, Zebras’ head coach Stanley Tshosane was hoping to have a full squad by Monday.
Among others, Tshosane will give his newly found prospects—England-based Bobby Shillinde and Pako Lekgari—a chance to prove their mettle when his charges host the Flames.
Shillinde arrived in Botswana last weekend after getting his first call-up ahead of Tuesday’s build-up match for their World Cup qualifying tie against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa on March 24.
Lekgari, who was impressive for the Warriors of Zimbabwe, has also joined the Zebras squad, but all eyes will be on the 21-year-old Shillinde, who plies his trade at AFC Wimbledon in League Two.
The last time the Flames faced Botswana was in a 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Gaborone and the match ended goalless.
In a previous encounter in the same campaign, the Flames were held to a 1-all draw at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre. Dave Banda, who is not part of the current squad, scored for the Flames.