Flames coach Ernest Mtawali has dropped nine experienced players from the squad that will face Swaziland on September 6in Swaziland.
Mtawali has dropped players; Harry Nyirenda, Fischer Kondowe, Joseph Kamwendo, Esau Kanyenda, Charles Swini, Atusaye Nyondo, Lucky Malata and Frank Banda.
The exclusion of the veterans has created space for uncapped players Bright Munthali (Fisd Wizards), Wonderful Jeremani (Silver Strikers), Yamikani Chester (Azam Tigers), Chawanangwa Kaonga (Chibvuto FC) and Manase Chiyesa (Kamuzu Barracks).
This will be the second game for the Flames in the 2017 AFCON qualifiers, having lost 0-1 to the Warriors of Zimbabwe at Kamuzu Stadium on June 13 this year, during which players like Kamwendo produced below par performance.
Mtawali justified the exclusion of the experienced players saying he, and his assistant Nsanzurwimo Ramadhan, considered a number of factors in coming up with the final squad.
“It’s not that the door has been shut on them completely. In coming up with the final squad, there were a number of factors that were critically looked into such as game plan, frequency of game time and performance at their respective clubs.
“I have spoken to most of the affected players about the reasons why they are not in the squad,” said Mtawali yesterday on the sidelines of a press conference held at Football Association of Malawi’s (FAM) Technical Centre in Chiwembe, Blantyre.
He added: “A place in the national squad needs to be deserved through commitment, attitude and performance.”
Mtawali also said they have belief in the squad that they have selected for the Swaziland game which will be captained by South Africa-based defender Limbikani Mzava.
“It was not easy to come up with the final squad because there were also others who equally deserved consideration, but we have belief in the squad that we have chosen.
“We would also have loved to play an international friendly match, but without a Fifa calendar date, it was going to be a challenge. Nevertheless, I believe we took a bold decision to play two training matches [against Be Forward Wanderers and Airtel Rising Star select side] which helped us a lot,” he said.
Reacting to his exclusion, Kamwendo yesterday said: “I know I have been left out because I am not playing, but I will come back stronger. I wish the new technical panel all the best and I believe they will make us proud.”
FAM general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda said the Flames will camp in Mpumalanga Province from tomorrow until Fridaywhere they will also play a training match against National First Division (NFD) side Mbombela United on Wednesday. The match has been facilitated by Malawian journalist Benjamin Nyirenda who is based in South Africa.
Meanwhile, Swaziland national football team coach Harries Bulunga has kept faith in the squad that stunned Guinea’s SylliNationale 2-1 in their opening Afcon qualifier.
According to a Swaziland daily, The Observer, Sihlangu’s squad remains unchanged with injured Royal Leopard defender Siboniso Malambe the only one who failed to make the cut.
The squad is currently in camp at the National Football Association of Swaziland (NFAS) Technical Centre in Mbabane.
Royal Leopard and Mbabane Swallows dominate the call up with seven players each.
“Worth noting is that the squad’s technical bench has ignored on-form Royal Leopard winger, Muzi ‘Mzoro’ Dlamini,” reported the paper.
On the list of the 21 man squad the Football Association of Malawi (Fam) released today ahead of the Swaziland game, goalkeepers are Richard Chipuwa (Be Forward Wanders) and Munthali from Fisz Wizard.
In defense, the team will be manned by Limbikani Mzava (Mpumalanga Black Aces), Stanely Sanudi (Be Forward Wanderers), Yamikani Fodya (Big Bullets), Wonderful Jeremani (Silver Strikers), John Lanjesi (Civo United) and Pilirani Zonda (Big Bullets).
The midfield will be in the hands of Chimango Kayira (Costa de sol), Gerald Phiri Jr (Bidvest Wits), Micium Mhone (Jomo Cosmos), John Banda (Blue Eagles), Isaac Kaliati (Be Forward), Robert Ng’ambi (Platinum Stars), Chikoti Chirwa (Red Lions) and Yamikani Chester (Azam Tigers).
Strikers are Chiukepo Msowoya (Big Bullets Fc), Chawanangwa Kaonga (Chibvuto Fc), Robin Ngalande (Platinum Stars), Manase Chiyesa (Kamuzu Barracks) and Muhammed Sulumba (Jomo Cosmos). (Additional reporting by Garry Chirwa, Sports Editor).