Malawi national football team’s preparations for Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against Burkina Faso next month have suffered a setback after Nyasa Big Bullets refused to release its eight players for camping.
The Flames regrouped Sunday at Mpira Village in Blantyre ahead of the crucial back-to back qualifiers but the senior side’s coach Meck Mwase will have to wait until Friday to have Bullets players.
Mwase included eight Bullets players in his 23-member local squad namely goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe, defenders Gomezgani Chirwa, Precious Sambani and Nickson Nyasulu, midfielders Chimango Kaira, Peter Banda and Chimwemwe Idana and striker Hassan Kajoke.
As part of their pre-season preparations, Bullets is in the Lake shore district of Mangochi for two-week camp training.
Bullets coach Kalisto Pasuwa said the players will be released on Friday, 30 October, 2020.
“For the past two years, we have been having problems whenever our players have gone to the national team. On return they have been struggling to adapt to our system of play. But now, I thought it would be good for us to have them around so that they cope with the system before we release them for national duty,” Pasuwa said.
“It is very unfortunate that the national team needs them and at the same time we also need them, but remember, we have congestion of games and we need these boys to be ready. And having the boys here in Mangochi will also be good for the national team that is going to Burkina Faso, which has the same weather we are experiencing here.”
By clinging on to the players, Bullets have not breached any rules as clubs are at liberty not to release players outside the Fifa International Calendar. Fifa allows clubs to release players on the last Sunday before the Fifa International Week.
But outside the Fifa calendar, players can only be released on the agreement between clubs and member associations. In addition, member associations are supposed to notify clubs in advance.
Football Association of Malawi (Fam), Competitions and Communication Director, Gomezgani Zakazaka asked for more time before commenting on the matter.
Meanwhile, Bullets will not take part in this year’s Caf Champions League. There has been uncertainty on their participation in the inter club competition but Caf released list of teams taking part in the tournament and there was no representative from Malawi.
However, football consultant Felix Ngamanya Sapao described it as worrisome.
“Sad development, we wonder why our game is developing in reverse because we take a step forward and then three steps backwards. In the end you turn to wonder why intermediaries like me concentrate on working with foreign clubs because we have to note that there is a Caf Club ranking that is key for European club scouts and getting work permits in Europe. And Caf Inter-club participation is very crucial in getting points for the Caf Club ranking,” Sapao said.
For two consecutive years, Bullets took part in the competition in 2018 and 2019 but exited in the preliminary round. Last year, they exited the competition after a 2-1 loss to Platinum FC of Zimbabwe.