Flames coach Ernest Mtawali has dropped senior players Robert Ng’ambi and Chimango Kayira from the provisional squad that will camp this Sunday in preparation for 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Zimbabwe on June 4 and the Cosafa Cup in Namibia.
This is the first time for Mozambique-based Kayira to be left out of the squad since 2013 when he made the first team in the senior squad.
For Ng’ambi, the development comes after some bad-blood with the coach last year when he was left on the bench during the Afcon qualifier against Swaziland in Mbabane.
The coach has opted for Super League players some of whom who have earned first call-up.
Be Forward Wanderers impressive midfielder Rafiq Namwera, Mafco duo of Paul Phiri and Stein Malata are some of the new faces.
Nomads’ new-catch Jaffalie Chande and Mafco’s red-hot striker Richard Mbulu, Mozambique-based goalkeeper Charles Swini, have also returned to the squad.
The squad, posted on Football Association of Malawi (FAM) official Facebook page, has attracted mixed reactions.
Commenting on the call-up, Emmanuel Tebulo said he was not impressed with squad.
“I don’t see the team winning in Harare when Zimbabwe easily beat us at home in the first leg,” he said.
Symon Chavula wondered why the coach has left out in-form Moyale Barracks goalkeeper Juma Chikwenga.
However, Zephania Jamu applauded the coach for the selection.
He said: “Rafiq [Namwera] is a complete midfielder; Jaffalie [Chande] is there to prove his critics wrong. As for Chiukepo [Msowoya], nothing new but a goal-wizard.”
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda said the coach has a right to pick players of his choice.
“You and I may have our opinion on who should be in the squad. But it is only the coach and his technical panel that have a mandate to select the squad,” said Nyirenda.
The GS, however, said they were only interested in the team winning its remaining Afcon matches and the Cosafa Cup.
“Remember, he [Mtawali] signed a performance-based contract. At the end of the day, he will be assessed based on what he was tasked to achieve,” he said.
Mtawali was not available for comment, but he earlier indicated that he would drop some players after their poor showing in Afcon qualifier against Guinea when the Flames allowed the visitors to come from behind and claim a 2-1 victory at Kamuzu Stadium.
“You will see a lot of changes. But these have been done because I feel those that we have called are capable of bringing the results,” Mtawali had said on Monday before releasing the squad.
Foreign-based players in Mtawali’s 32-memeber squad are Swini (H.B. Songo), Harry Nyirenda (Black Leopards), Limbikani Mzava (Mpumalanga Black Aces), Joseph Kamwendo (Liga Mulcumana), John Banda (Ferraiviaro de Nampula), Micium Mhone (Jomo Cosmos), Gerald Phiri Jnr (Bidvest Wits), Gabadihno Mhango(Golden Arrows) and Schumacher Kuwali (Ferraiviaro de Nampula).