Flames coach Ronny Van Geneuden (RVG) has named an attack-minded squad of 26 local-based players that will start pre-camp training today ahead of the 2019 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group B qualifier against the Comoros on June 10.
But, perhaps, the most surprising development is that he has left out at least seven experienced players that were actively involved in the recent futile Championship of African Nations (Chan) preliminary round qualifiers against Madagascar.
Dave Banda, who was Flames captain during the Chan encounters, has been sidelined alongside other high-profile players such as Joseph Kamwendo, Muhammad Sulumba, Chimango Kayira, Robin Ngalande, Ishmael Thindwa and Harvey Nkacha.
Players that have survived the chop are goalkeepers Leman Nthala, Ernest Kakhobwe and Brighton Munthali; defenders Stanley Sanudi, Lucky Malata, Francis Mlimbika, Yamikani Fodya, John Lanjesi and Chisomo Mpachika; midfielders Simeon Singa, Chikoti Chirwa, Ben Mbewe, Dalitso Sailesi and Levison Maganizo and strikers Binwell Katinji, Micium Mhone, Manase Chiyesa, and Yamikani Chester.
Other strikers Khuda Muyaba, Innocent Bokosi, Jabulani Linje and Green Harawa have been given another chance to prove their mettle in the national team alongside midfielder Young Chimodzi Jnr and defender Pilirani Zonda.
Azam Tigers’ goalkeeper William Thole and PremierBet Wizards defender Denis Chembezi are the notable new faces in the squad that will be joined by at least 10 foreign-based players in the next few days.
The local-based squad, which has been dominated by Silver Strikers players (six) followed by Be Forward Wanderers and Nyasa Big Bullets (five players apiece), has nine strikers, eight defenders, five midfielders and four goalkeepers.
During a press conference at Mpira Village in Blantyre yesterday, RVG said he has named the squad based on his assessments in a number of domestic matches he has watched so far.
He added that he has emphasised on having a relatively youthful squad because “young players have the quality to make progression.”
RVG said: “Apart from having technical skills, I wanted players that show they are ready for national duty. I want to create a new team with a new style of play every Malawi an should be familiar with.”