Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has approved Flames coach Ernest Mtawali’s proposal to travel to South Africa to assess some players as he prepares for 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) double qualifier against Guinea in March this year.
In an interview yesterday, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said the proposal was contained in a report the coach tabled at the soccer governing body’s executive committee meeting on Saturday.
It came after Mtawali recently disclosed that unlike in the past, he would draft more experienced foreign-based players in his next call-up.
Nyamilandu said the trip was crucial as it would offer the coach an opportunity to establish the players that are fit and available for consideration.
“South Africa has the biggest number of Malawian players. His trip will be relevant because he will be able to get first-hand information on how our players are faring,” he said.
Nyamilandu further said the FAM leadership has approved the coach’s recommendations for the squad to camp for a month since the local league is on off-season.
“The coach fears that the targeted local players will not be match-fit because the season is on recess. We share his concerns and this is why we have approved the four-week camp which is expected to start in February,” he said.
Mtawali yesterday refused to answer questions on what he wants to achieve during his approved trip to South Africa.
But recently, the coach said among the players he was closely monitoring are Pretoria University striker Atusaye Nyondo, Platinum Stars playmaker Robert Ng’ambi whose relationship with Mtawali is strained.
The relationship between the two was ruined when Mtawali benched the attacking midfielder during an Afcon match away to Swaziland last year.
Meanwhile, former Flames captain Peter Mponda has urged Mtawali to use the trip to iron out his differences with Ng’ambi.
Flames lie third in the 2017 Afcon qualifying group with one point from two matches while Swaziland is top with four points and Zimbabwe, with the same number of points, is second. Guinea anchors the table with one point. The team that wins the group will qualify for the finals in Gabon. n