The Flames have suffered another blow in the countdown to next monthâ€™s 2013 Africa Cup of Nations final round qualification first leg against Ghana with the news that centre back Foster Namwela has been ruled out of the tie having accumulated two yellow cards.
Apart from Namwela, injury-plagued captain Peter â€˜Mjojoâ€™ Mponda is also out of the tie, so is blossoming winger John â€˜CJâ€™ Banda who twisted his leg while playing for his club Blue Eagles in a Super League game.
While confirming Namwelaâ€™s suspension, Flames coach Kinnah Phiri on Tuesday played down the playerâ€™s absence saying he has enough backup.
â€œIt is true Foster has been ruled of the forthcoming game against Ghana, but it should not be a cause for worry as we have enough cover in Harry Nyirenda, Pilira Makupe and John Lanjesi,â€ said Kinnah.
The coach has also dropped three foreign-based strikers Jimmy Zakazaka, Zico Mkanda and Russell Mwafulirwa who enjoyed a rich vein of form last season.
Battle-hardened forward Esau Kanyenda who is set to return to Denmark to renew his contract with Second Division East side B 1893, has also been left out
However, Kinnah justified their exclusion, saying the emphasis in the Ghana game will be on defensive.
â€œI have not left them out completely, rather it is a tactical decision because weâ€™ll be more cautious in the first leg as weâ€™ll be playing away.
â€œZakazaka and Mkanda will definitely be considered for the return leg,â€ said Kinnah.
On Kanyenda and Mwafulirwa, Kinnah said: â€œThey too are not out of the picture only that I want them to settle down as they are in the process of joining new clubs. We also need to groom the up-and-coming local strikers who have shown potential.â€
Zakazaka, who finished as second top scorer in the South African National First Division (NFD) last season, said he was not bitter with the coachâ€™s decision.
â€œWell, it is the prerogative of the coach to select players in accordance with his plans.
â€œI am not bitter at all and I am wishing the guys the best of luck as they prepare for Ghana. I am optimistic that with determination, we can come out with a positive result in Accra. We should all rally behind the team,â€ said Zakazaka.
Mozambique-based Mkanda could not be reached for his comment.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has since released a list of foreign-based players for the Ghana game. It comprises goalkeeper Simplex Nthala, defenders Nyirenda, Limbikani Mzava and James Sangala, midfielders Robert Ngâ€™ambi and Peter Wadabwa, strikers Robin Ngalande, Victor Nyirenda and Atusaye Nyondo.
Striker Chiukepo Msowoya, who has agreed to a mutual termination of his contract with South African PSL side Orlando Pirates, is also expected to join the squad whereas stand-in captain Moses â€˜Lubaâ€™ Chavula and midfielder Dave Banda, have already joined the squad.