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Army players sidelined?

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The absence of Malawi Defence Force (MDF) footballers in the latest Malawi senior national team provisional squad has raised questions on whether the Flames coach, Ernest Mtawali, is deliberately sidelining Army players.

However, Mtawali on Thursday said it was impossible to include everyone in the national squad.

“It’s not easy; I cannot please everyone in this job. Everybody will come up with his/her own squad. If I give the whole nation a chance to select the team, then we will have more players,” Mtawali said on Thursday.

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There is no player from MDF teams in the 30-member squad which Mtawali released on Tuesday ahead of Sunday’s camp training for a double header against Guinea in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers next month.

Soccer pundits argue that last season’s joint Golden Boot winner, Innocent Bokosi (Red Lions), Harvey Nkacha, Manase Chiyesa (both Kamuzu Barracks), Zasher M’nong’oneza, Richard Mbulu, Oswald Nkagula (all Mafco) and Juma Chikwenga (Moyale Barracks) are better than some players trusted by Mtawali.

Only Davie Banda, McDonald Harawa and Gastin Simkonda were Flames regulars from MDF teams in recent years. Harawa, was until last year, a regular but blunders cost him his Flames’ place.

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In his latest call-up, Mtawali has included five goalkeepers, ignoring talented MDF players.

Renowned soccer pundit, Charles Nyirenda, said some of the players considered for the national team are unpredictable.

“Quality matters but most of the players from Army teams have always performed well in the league as well as for the Flames, but they are excluded. It is surprising that some underperforming players in the league are considered for the national team,” Nyirenda said.

He said claimed that some players are included or excluded due to the influence of top people.

“Whether, we like it or not, we need to build a new team because most of the players have exhausted their energy,” he noted.

Former Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers striker, Andrew Chikhosi, was puzzled on why players from MDF teams are mostly excluded from the Flames squad.

“I don’t believe the coaches have full control on selection of players. To me, some foreign-based players are not even better compared to some of the local players,” Chikhosi said.

However, the four Army teams did not win any silverware last season. In recent years, MDF players such as Gastin Simkonda and Banda, have had their careers compromised by Army foreign mission assignments.

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