National football team coach Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) has spoken out on Be Forward Wanderers playmaker Yamikani Chester’s exclusion from the Flames’ 25-member provisional squad.
Chester was drafted into the squad after Saturday’s TNM Super League Blantyre derby against leaders Nyasa Big Bullets in which he was named man-of-the-match.
“I am not being forced to include Chester in the squad. There are a number of reasons why he was dropped and then recalled.
“First, some players that we were expecting to join camp on Sunday will only start arriving later today while others from Mozambique [Charles Swini, Frank and John Banda] have a shift game today [yesterday] and that means they will only train with us probably Tuesday. So, we needed more players.
“The other reason is that we were not sure about his fitness until he played in Saturday’s match and then, of course, he was outstanding in the derby,” he said.
The coach said he will name his final squad today.
Chester, who is enjoying a rich vein of form, said he is happy to be offered another chance.
“I don’t think I have much to say, suffice to say team selection is at the discretion of the coaches and all I need to do is to work extra hard,” he said.
Meanwhile, professional players have started trickling in for the qualifier.
South Africa-based trio of Gabadinho Mhango and Gerald Phiri Jnr and Mozambique-based colleague Richard Mbulu joined the Flames on Sunday.
But captain Limbikani Mzava was expected to jet in the country yesterday.
The other Mozambique-based players Charles Swini, Frank and John Banda are only expected to join the squad on Wednesday as their teams had games on Monday.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) competitions and media manager Gomezgani Zakazaka said the players will travel by road.
“It’s shorter for them to travel by from where they are playing their game than to fly to Maputo and fly to South Africa before connecting to Malawi,” he said.
Defender Precious Sambani and Under-20 national team forward Peter Banda, who were in Belgium for trials at Club Brugge, were also expected late on Monday—so too Japan-based attacker Jabulani Linje.
The team resumed training on Monday in Blantyre and is scheduled to depart for Morocco tomorrow.
The Flames are joint Group B leaders with reigning African champions Cameroon both with three points.