Flames coach Ronny Van Geneugden (RVG) is confident that all senior players will turn up for next month’s African Cup of Nation (Afcon) qualifiers against Morocco after clearing out misunderstandings that existed with them.
RVG confirmed during the week having met in South Africa with his captain Limbikani Mzava, who turned down 2018 Cosafa Cup call-up, arguing that the regional tournament is meant for up-and-coming players.
The coach also had separate meetings with Frank Gabadinho Mhango, who last played for Malawi in the match against Comoros in June 2017, amid reports that he had a spat with RVG.
The coach also said he had talks with Platinum Stars midfielder Robert Ng’ambi, who has been absent from the national team since last year after turning down a call up for an international friendly against Uganda in March.
RVG said though he did not have a chance to talk to Ng’ambi’s former teammate Gerald Phiri Jnr, who has since returned to Bidvet Wits, he met his manager club’s officials, who assured him that the player would be available for the Afcon qualifiers. “Yes, I can confirm that indeed I talked to the players and they assured me that they will be available for the Afcon qualifiers. For more information, you can talk to the secretariat,” said RVG on Wednesday.
FAM competitions manager and media officer Gomezgani Zakazaka said following the meetings, all the top players will be called for the Morocco qualifier.
“As you can see, the meetings were successful because the coach managed to talk to the players and discussed several issues, including the forthcoming Afcon qualifiers.
“It is only Gerard Phri Jnr, whom RVG did not talk to directly when he was in South Africa because the player has been up and down as he is changing teams from Platinum Stars to Bidvets Wits following the expiry of his loan deal.
“The coach also had a successful discussion with Robert [Ng’ambi]. As you are aware, Robert is in Cyprus for trials and he has promised to report for the Flames camp training once complete the trials,” he said.
The meetings with the players follow FAM technical subcommittee recommendation that the coach should ensure all top players are available for the Afcon qualifiers.
The committee, headed by FAM vice-president James Mwenda, made the recommendation after noting that some professional players have in the past, been left out of the Belgian’s squad.
Mwenda said after the meeting: “We have asked the coach to ensure that he includes all our top players in the squad considering that we will be meeting one of the best teams in Africa. We have seen how Morocco played at the World Cup.”
Meanwhile, captain Mzava said he was glad that most senior players will be available for the Afcon qualifiers.
“This is a crucial match and we need all the senior players if we are to compete effectively against high profile teams such as Morocco and Cameroon,” he said.
Soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda commended RVG and the players for burying the hatchet.
“It would have been suicide to face Morocco without players such as Robert Ng’ambi, Gabadinho and Phiri Jnr,” he said.