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Club vs country

Big Bullets snub Flames camp training

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Mario Marinica

Malawi National Football Team has been training without Nyasa Big Bullets players in preparation for the African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifier against Mozambique at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe on August 26.

Bullets decided against releasing their players to join camp training at Mpira Stadium in Blantyre, saying they needed all their players for the FDH Bank Cup quarterfinal against Chitipa United at Rumphi Stadium on Sunday.

Bullets Chief Executive Officer Suzgo Nyirenda said their decision was in line with Fifa regulations.

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“We have a quarterfinal match on Sunday in the FDH bank Cup up North. We expect to travel on Thursday [today] for the match. If our players had joined camp on Monday after the [Mighty Mukuru] Wanderers match on Sunday, they would have been back with us on Wednesday [yesterday].

“This means they would not have trained with their teammates before the match. Our decision is guided by Fifa regulations which state that players should be released five days before an international match. So we will release our players soon after the match in Rumphi,” Nyirenda said.

He said the move should not be deemed as sabotage, maintaining that they are only acting in line with regulations which Football Association of Malawi is in custody of.

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Bullets’ stance has frustrated Flames Coach Mario Marinica who is desperate for success after failing to deliver at this year’s Cosafa Cup.

Marinica said it is difficult to train with a depleted squad.

“This is out of my hands. I needed a full squad but Bullets players were not there. So I could only train the players who were available. I just had to carry on and find ways of fulfilling Fam’s objectives in the best possible way,” he said.

Fam General Secretary Alfred Gunda, while acknowledging the need for the coach to have a full squad in camp for the Mozambique game, said club assignments must also be respected in line with regulations.

“We know that time is a challenge at all times because players have club commitments to fulfill. This is where programs are done in such a way that there is an opportunity for players to train together in a staggered way. The international window regulations as well as the calendar also contribute to the same,” Gunda said.

Marinica will have to release the players again as both Fam and Super League of Malawi have lined up games this weekend.

This means the players will resume camp training on Monday ahead of the Chan match.

Also in action in the FDH Bank Cup on Saturday are Wanderers and Kamuzu Barracks (KB) at Kamuzu Stadium while Southern Region Football Association League Premier Division side Changalume Barracks will take on their Central Region counterparts Extreme FC in Balaka.

Bullets’ reserve team will also line up against Blue Eagles on Sunday as they hunt for a semifinal slot.

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