Flames coach Meke Mwase has embarked on a drive to assess players in preparation for Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and World Cup qualifiers which kick off in November.
The Flames will begin their Afcon Group B qualifiers with back-to-back matches between November 11 and 19.
Malawi hosts the preliminary round winner between South Sudan and Seychelles in a mid-week fixture before flying to Kampala, Uganda to face The Cranes, according to a fixture released by Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Tuesday.
The Fifa World Cup preliminary stage qualifiers will also be played at the same time and the Flames will be paired against one of the 14 least Fifa ranked teams.
The two competitions will be Mwase’s first assignment as permanent coach following an impressive run at the Cosafa Cup in South Africa where Malawi lost to the hosts in Plate final.
But the coach feels the Flames need the best arsenal in the Afcon and World Cup qualifiers.
“We already have a team comprising players that we took to Cosafa Cup in South Africa. But remember, we will be participating in two crucial competitions—the Afcon and the World Cup and we will need our best players,” he said.
The coach has already started assessing local players and is currently in the Northern Region where he interacted with Moyale Barracks players and coaches.
“I am in the Northern Region. I have watched a number of games involving some TNM Super League teams based here and interacted with their coaches as well. I also did the same with Blantyre-based teams last week,” said Mwase in an interview from Mzuzu.
Unlike his predecessor, Belgian Ronny Van Geneugden who concentrated on a small group of local and foreign-based players, Mwase said he will cast the net wider.
“The national team is for all of us. It is not for just a few. I will assess all the foreign-based players as well and they will be considered for the two competitions,” he said.
The Flames’ Cosafa Cup squad had foreign-based players in Richard Mbulu, Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango, Gerald Phiri Jnr, Chawanangwa Kawonga and John ‘CJ’ Banda.
Malawi’s regular foreign-based players include Yamikani Chester (USA), captain Limbikani Mzava (South Africa), Jabulani Linje (Japan), Charles Swini and Frank Banda (Mozambique) but they were not part for the Flames’ last assignments.
There are also other on-and-off foreign-based players such as Robin Ngalande, Atusaye Nyondo, Peter Wadabwa and Robert Ng’ambi.
Mwase said after the assessment, he would love the team to play some strength-testing matches.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary Alfred Gunda said his office will wait for the technical committee to submit the programme.
“We know the task ahead is going to be tough. The team has to play both Afcon and World Cup qualifiers at the same time.
“We will wait for them [technical panel]to present their programme,” he said.