Flames coach Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) says the bulk of the old-guard will be phased out from the Flames and the focus will now switch to the Under-23 side players who will graduate to the senior team.
The Flames mentor said Yamikani Chester, Peter Cholopi Stanley Sanudi, one senior player “and one or two foreign-based players that are active will remain in the squad”.
He said: “We have a number of players who double as senior and Under-23 national team players. Then we have players like Chester, Cholopi and Sanudi whose ages are between 24 and 25. These are the players that will be maintained.
“Of course, we will also maintain at least one senior player to provide the guidance and two foreign-based players who are active.”
The Under-23 players who double as senior team players include Brightone Munthali, Precious Sambani, Levison Maganizo, Patrick Phiri, Dennis Chembezi, Rafique Namwera, Gomezgani Chirwa and Felix Zulu.
But while the coach could not be drawn to comment on the future of the old guard, his statement means that for players such as Chiukepo Msowoya, Gastin Simkonda, John Lanjesi, Alfred Manyozo Jnr and Chikoti Chirwa their time with the national team might be up.
The foreign-based players include captain Limbikani Mzava, Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango, Gerald Phiri Jnr, Charles Swini, John and Frank Banda.
“We are now in the final phase of building a strong team for the future and it will comprise 40 players who were in the Under-17 then Under-20 to Under-23 in 2017 and 2018.
“Some of these players have played between 15 and 20 international games between 2017 and last year and are now ready for the big stage. There were some people who were asking why we were including young players such as Chimwemwe Idana, Peter Banda and Charles Petro for senior team training, but it was part of the process to prepare them,” he said.
RVG also said they will assemble one team for both the senior team and Under-23 engagements slated for March.
The Flames will host Morocco’s Atlas Lions in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations’ (Afcon) qualifier which will be of academic interest as Malawi is already out of contention while the Under-23 side will face Zambia back-to-back in the Under-23 Afcon qualifiers.
“It will be the same group that will be involved in the three matches.”
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) technical subcommittee chairperson James Mwenda, who is also the association’s vice-president, said they were briefed by RVG on his plans.
“The coach said that is the route he wants to take as he looks forward to taking a futuristic approach by building a new team of young players.
“Actually, he said it is that group that will play against Zambia and Morocco,” he said. n