Malawi has 32 players in foreign clubsÃ¢â‚¬â€just one short to form three starting XI, but only half of these, largely South Africa-based, exports get Flames consideration, Weekend Nation has established.
With a shallow and predictable starting XI, Flames could, due to the absence of a monitoring system, be denied the services of other better players such as Zicco Mkanda, Sankhani Nyirenda in Mozambique and Sankhani Mkandawire in South Africa.
Elsewhere, national coaches monitor players through sound rapport with their clubsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ counterparts and also by monitoring of games live or through television. Largely, coaches and their backroom teams carry notepads and take notes on players they eventually pick, backed with statistics. It rarely happens in Malawi.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda admitted that they rely on print reports and television coverage of foreign leagues. Sometimes they consult club coaches.
“Frankly speaking, we do not have a proper mechanism to follow up on all professional players. Most of the times we depend on information furnished by clubs. There are situations when we ask our friends in FA for playersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ performance,” Nyirenda said in a response to a questionnaire.
Flames coach Kinnah Phiri concentrates on 14 players from South Africa clubs. Mozambique is second biggest host of 10 Malawian players, three are in Europe, two in Asia and the rest in other African countries.
Weekend Nation established that 13 midfielders dominate the list, followed by nine defenders, eight strikers and two goalkeepers. The list excludes Esau Kanyenda and Grant Lungu who recently returned home and are free agents.
From the list of the foreign-based players, 20 are from top league teams, none from Europe plays for a top club whereas the rest are either in second tier or third tier clubs.
Kinnah picks most of the foreign-based without watching them physically. He recently challenged that he watches enough Super League games and does not need to monitor all of them.
“We have sent the national coach to check on the players, but whenever there are financial constraints, it becomes difficult. This problem is common for most African countries,” Nyirenda added.
Flames draw most of its regulars, usually 10, from South Africa and only Simplex Nthala from Mozambique. From the three in Europe, only Robin Ngalande from Spanish side Atletico Madrid gets a call-up.
MozambiqueÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Desportivo de Beira midfielder Chikondi Likwemba faults the Flames selection process: “We would make a big difference if given a chance. I do not think he [Kinnah] is fair in the selection.”
Chingale de Tete captain Lewis Minjale recently said he might listen to an offer from MozambiqueÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Mambas. Desportivo de MaculmanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s attacker Mkanda and FerroviaroÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Nyirenda are big names.
Vietnam-based striker Victor Nyirenda has scored four goals in his 10 appearance with the Flames, making him a better scorer than usually called strikers. South AfricaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Carara Kicks rate highly defender Mkandawire.
The list excludes South Africa-based defender Patrick Falawo and goalkeeper Steven Malashi in Tanzania for holding dual citizenships. Malawi restricts dual citizenship. Comparatively, Malawi has more foreign-based players than BotswanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Zebras who qualified for the 2012 Nations Cup.
MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s football exports include the following: Goalkeepers: Swadick Sanudi (Dynamos, South Africa); Simplex Nthala (Clube Vilanculus, Mozambique);
Defenders: Harry Nyirenda (Black Leopards, South Africa), Peter Mponda (Santos, South Africa), Limbikani Mzava (Bloemfontein Celtic, South Africa), James Sangala (Benfica, Angola), Clement Kafwafwa (LFA, Denmark), Elvis Kafoteka (Thailand/Rwanda), Moses Chavula (Amazulu, South Africa), Sankhani Mkandawire (Carara Kicks, South Africa), Emmanuel Chipatala (Ferroviario de Nampula, Mozambique), Lewis Minjale (Chingale de Tete).
Midfielders: Dave Banda (Black Leopards), Tawonga Chimodzi (Santos), Alex Kamwendo (MilanoÃ¢â‚¬â€all South Africa), Lawrence Majawa (Township Rollers, Botswana); Dan Chitsulo (Munster, Germany); Zicco Mkanda (Liga Maculmana de Maputo); Dangalira Mlelemba, Gerald Mkungula, Alick Lihuhu (HCB de Songo), Chikondi Likwemba (Ferroviario da Beira), Clement Kamangire (Chingale de Tete), Rawland Zulu (Textil de PunguÃ¢â‚¬â€all Mozambique).
Strikers: Russell Mwafulirwa (Jomo Cosmos, South Africa), Victor Nyirenda (Vietnam), Peter Wadabwa (Thanda Royal Zulu, South Africa), Chiukepo Msowoya (Platinum Stars, South Africa), Jimmy Zakazaka (African Warriors, South Africa), Robin Ngalande (Atletico Madrid, Spain), Luka Milanzi (TP Mazembe, DRC), Sankhani Nyirenda (Ferroviario de Nampula, Mozambique).