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Big Bullets hold on to Under-23 players

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BONE OF CONTENTION—Nkhoma

Football Association of Malawi (Fam) got a rude awakening after Nyasa Big Bullets refused to release players that have been called for the Malawi Under-23 National Football Team camp.

The under-23 side started residential camp on Sunday at Mpira Village in Blantyre minus seven Bullets players.

Bullets have contributed goalkeeper Clever Mkungula, defenders Kesten Simbi, Blessings Mpokera, midfielders Stanley Biliati, Patrick Mwaungulu, Robert Saizi and striker Lanjesi Nkhoma.

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However, Bullets have put their foot down on the possibility of releasing the players, insisting that they will be released after the Blantyre derby against Mighty Wanderers at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday.

Bullets Chief Executive Officer Suzgo Nyirenda said the matter was referred to the technical panel.

“Mind you we are talking of the competition which is not on Fifa Calendar dates and we have a derby. My view is that the coach would expect all our players to train with the team. However, the decision will be made by the coach,” Nyirenda said.

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Members of Bullets technical panel were unavailable for comment.

Fam General Secretary Alfred Gunda and Communications and Competitions Director Gomezgani Zakazaka were not readily available yesterday.

According to Fifa rules, Bullets are at liberty not to release players for national team activities outside the international window.

The Fifa men’s international window starts on March 21 to March 29.

Players must be released by the club and start travel to join the representative team at least one day before the international transfer window.

After the end of international window, players must travel back to their clubs.

Additionally, article three states that associations wishing to call up a player must notify the player and their club at least 15 days before the first day of the international window.

Failure to comply with the deadline shall result in a call-up being deemed invalid.

Clubs must confirm to the association that will release the player. Silver Strikers attacking midfielder Zebron Kalima and Sable Farming midfielder Innocent Msowoya have also not reported for camp due to unknown reasons.

Meanwhile, U-23 will face Kuwait in the opening match of the tri-nation tournament dubbed Tour Fanatic on March 24 in Antalya, Turkey.

The young flames will meet Togo in the second match of the tournament at the same venue four days later. Malawi will depart for Turkey on March 21 and will return on March 30.

Head coach Patrick Mabedi and his assistant named a 31-member provisional squad for the tournament.

The squad comprises three foreign country-based players namely Peter Banda of Simba SC (Tanzania), Dira Goli midfielder (Georgia) Francisco Madinga and Tiraspol Sheriff defender Charles Petro.

Sports analyst Sherry Msuku said the tournament would help to expose players.

“This is a good opportunity for the players as well as technical panel. Everything is advanced in Europe so this is an important trip,” said the former Flames midfielder.

The young Flames are using the matches as part of preparations for Africa Nations Championship and Cosafa Cup in South Africa.

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