Bankers cling to players

Reluctant to release its troops for Saudi Arabia trip

James Sangala

Silver Strikers are yet to release their players to join Malawi National Football Team camp ahead of the trip to Saudi Arabia Thursday.

This could be a setback to Flames coach Mario Marian Marinica, having included four players from Silver in the 24-member provisional squad.

Silver have goalkeeper Charles Thom, defender Nixon Mwase, midfielder Chimwemwe Idana and striker Stain Davie.


This comes one week after Silver, alongside Mighty Mukuru Wanderers and FCB Nyasa Bullets, expressed concern with the timing of the trip as clubs are preparing for the upcoming season.

Inside sources confided in Times Sport Tuesday that chances were slim that Silver players would be released.

“The coach Pieter de Jongh has made it clear that it will not be good to release players for two weeks. Of course, discussions are underway but I doubt if they will reach an agreement,’’ said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.


Silver players were also not allowed to play in a practice match against Lesotho in which the Flames lost 1-0 at Civo Stadium.

Silver acting Chief Executive Officer Faith Mzungu-Vilakati said they will communicate once they finalise everything on the matter.

“But at the moment, the players are training with us,” she said

Football expert Felix Ngamanya Sapao backed de Jongh.

“Preseason training for clubs is a crucial part of preparations for the season. It is key for a new players to remain with their clubs. He has a performance contract. As such, he has his own programme for his players.

“He has the right not to release the players on dates outside the Fifa calendar. As a new coach at the club, he has to know players on his schedule for training. It will be very unfair to disturb the training schedule,” he said.

Saopa said the expatriate could be ready to release his players on March 20 as per Fifa required dates.

“Unfortunately, the timing of the Saudi trip is very wrong and will disturb the preseason training of the clubs,” he said.

However, the Dutch coach recently vowed not to release the players.

According to Fifa rules, clubs are at liberty not to release players outside the Fifa international window. Players are supposed to be released for a maximum of eight days during the Fifa window.

Marinica last week said they engaged the concerned clubs to release players.

“For local players, we have approached the clubs on a player by player basis,” the Romanian said.

Bullets Chief Administration Officer Albert Chigoga said their players would be released for the trip.

Meanwhile, Botosani defender-cum midfielder Charles Petro has been ruled out of the trip to Saudi Arabia after his club refused.

However, he would travel straight to Egypt.

Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Technical Manager James Sangala said UD Songo have agreed to release captain John Banda for the trip.

“We had a fruitful discussion with Songo. CJ will be available after March 12. Again, we have also been assured of Francisco Madinga’s availability,” he said.

Scotland-based defender Kieran Ngwenya will also travel to Saudi Arabia.

The Flames will face Egypt away on March 24 in Cairo before hosting the Pharaohs at Bingu National Stadium four days later.

All the four teams in Group D have three points each, which means the group is wide open.

Ethiopia are at the top of Malawi on goal-difference whereas Guinea and Egypt are third and fourth, respectively.

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