Flames coach Mario Marinica says he is worried that Malawi will not play a friendly match due to the tight schedule for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) first round of qualifiers.
The Fifa calendar for the first round of matches runs from May 31 to June 14 and the Flames will host Ethiopia’s Walyas in their opening qualifier on June 5 before travelling to Guinea to face the Syli Nationale on June 9.
The Romanian said: “We would have really loved to have a friendly because the players have not played together for five months. Unfortunately, that won’t be possible. We just do not have much time because most of the [foreign] players will probably arrive on June 1 and we’ll not have enough time to prepare.
“As for the Guinea match, we only have four days in between and that includes travel which is not easy. So we’ll have to do with what we can.”
He, however, stressed that he is not trying to come up with an excuse.
“The situation means we need to put in a little hard work and determination to execute all that we want and that will be taken care of,” he explained.
Marinica further said luck of game time for some of his foreign-based key players is also a concern.
He said: “We have to overcome the obstacle that some foreign-based players haven’t featured much for their respective clubs.”
The coach said he is expecting all his foreign arsenal for the matches.
“We are actually trying to arrange that the foreign-based players who have finished the season such as Khuda Muyaba and Dennis Chembezi should join the squad earlier,” he said.
Some of the exports lacking game time are the South Africa-based trio of captain Limbikani Mzava and strikers Gabadinho Mhango and Richard Mbulu.
Mzava is yet to feature for his club AmaZulu FC since he recovered from a hamstring injury sustained at the delayed 2021 Afrcon finals in Cameroon in January while Mhango has only made two starts at Orlando Pirates this season.
On the other hand, Mbulu has been on-and-off at relegation-threatened Baroka FC.
But in an interview on Tuesday, Mhango said despite lack of game time, he has been working very hard.
He said: “Of course, game time is another thing, but I am pushing to be in shape.
“Prior to the Afcon finals, I was also not enjoying game time, but sometimes it is about determination and hard work.”
Marinica’s solace though is that some foreign-based players such as Europe-based Fransisco Madinga and Charles Petro, Tanzania-based Peter Banda and vice-captain John ‘CJ’ Banda, who is based in Mozambique, have enjoyed considerable game time of late.
Striker Khuda Muyaba and defender Dennis Chembezi have also been regulars at South African second-tier league side Polokwane City.