Malawi national team players will be undergoing three training sessions a day—instead of the normal two—as coach Ernest Mtawali battles to raise their fitness levels after Monday’s assessment revealed that most players were not fit enough.
The Flames kick-started preparations for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) double header against Guinea next month by undergoing a fitness test which saw only four players out of 15 score above average grades.
Those that made the grade were defenders Wonder Jelemani and Stanley Sanudi and midfielders Dalitso Sailesi and Isaac Kaliati. The four finished 12 levels of the 16-level mark jogging test at Chiwembe Technical Centre ground in Blantyre.
According to Mtawali, five other players reached 10 levels which he said was average while six put in a below-par performance after reaching nine levels or under.
Speaking after the assessment, the coach described the test outcome as encouraging considering that the players were on off-season recess.
“I am pleased with what I have seen because there are few players that are below average. Nonetheless, I want them to be super fit, so we have designed a training schedule that will see the players train three times a day,” he said.
The coach was optimistic that after eight days of the intensive training, the players will have picked up the expected levels of fitness.
“During this period, we will focus on aerobics and other endurance sessions before we start concentrating on ball work,” he said.
The former midfielder also disclosed that after the fitness levels have improved, they will organise friendly matches with some local clubs so that “we analyse how the players are executing the tactical part of our training,” he said.
Eighteen local-based players were called into camp last week, but midfielders John Banda and Schumacher Kuwali are yet to report because they are attending trials in Mozambique.
Meanwhile, Mtawali said the duo will join camp later this week and would also undergo fitness test which will aid the technical panel to determine the type of training they need to match with fellow players.
Left-back Yamikani Fodya sat out the training yesterday after, according to team doctor Levi Mwale, he developed malaria symptoms.
“He should be fit to join training some time later this week,” he said.
Flames face Guinea in a double Afcon qualifier starting in Conakry on March 25 before a return match at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre, two days later.
Malawi is in group L of the qualifiers which is led by minnows Swaziland and Zimbabwe. Both have four points from two matches while the Flames and Guinea have a point each from the same number of matches. The winner in the race will qualify for the continental showpiece in Gabon. n