There was no tinkering with the youth for Malawi National Football Team Coach, Ernest Mtawali, when he unveiled his experienced 20-member Zimbabwe-bound party ahead of Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) showdown.
Mtawali axed young goalkeeper, Brighton Munthali— who was faulted for conceding cheaply in 1-2 home loss to Guinea during a Group L clash in March—and Mozambique-based striker Schumacher Kuwali.
With jobs at stake and qualification to 2017 Afcon hanging by a thread, the coach opted for experienced Mozambique-based keeper, Charles Swini, while also dropping Blue Eagles custodian, John Soko and Be Forward Wanderers’ winger, Isaac Kaliyati.
The exit of Soko effectively means that there is n o representation in the Flames squad of TNM Super League leaders, Blue Eagles.
Swini returns alongside Be Forward Wanderers’ in-form striker, Peter Wadabwa and Nyasa Big Bullets’ Muhamad Sulumba. Joint league leading scorer, Richard Mbulu, also missed the trip.
The squad was not without a surprise though as Bullets custodian Ernest Kakhobwe has made the Zimbabwe trip alongside fellow rookie, Rafik Namwela.
The survivors from Mtawali’s young brigade that epitomised his abandoned rebuilding exercise are right-back, Stanley Sanudi (Wanderers), Miracle Gabeya (Bullets), Gerald Phiri Jnr (BidVest Wits), Wonder Jelemani (Silver Strikers) and Dalitso Sailesi (Bullets).
Flames Team Manager, Clement Kafwafwa, disclosed that after the Zimbabwe match, the team will proceed to Namibia to play a friendly match against the Brave Warriors ahead of the Cosafa Castle Cup tournament starting on June 11.
“The coach had a tough time coming up with the final squad because competition for places was very stiff,” Kafwafwa said yesterday.
With two points from five games and six points behind leaders, Zimbabwe, the match is a must-win for the Flames if they are to keep their slim hopes of qualification alive.
While there is no doubt that the squad is experienced, it looks thin in defensive midfield area with only inexperienced Namwela and Jelemani available for selection.
Zimbabwe can seal an early qualification ticket if Guinea fail to win in Swaziland. Both teams have five points each.
- Charles Swini (HSB Songo)
- Ernest Kakhobwe (Bullets)
- Stanley Sanudi (Wanderers)
4 . Francis Mulimbika (Wanderers)
- Yamikani Fodya (Bullets)
- Pilirani Zonda (Bullets)
- John Lanjesi (Bullets)
- Miracle Gabeya (Bullets)
- Harry Nyirenda (Black Leopards, South Africa)
- Joseph Kamwendo (Liga Desportivo de Maputo, Mozambique)
- Miciam Mhone (Jomo Cosmos, South Africa)
- Wonderful Jereman (Silver Strikers)
- John Banda (Ferroviaro de Nampula, Mozambique)
- Gerald Jnr Phiri (BidVest Wits)
- Dalitso Sailesi (Bullets)
- Rafick Namwera (Wanderers)
- Chiukepo Msowoya (Bullets)
- Muhammad Sulumba (Bullets)
- Peter Wadabwa (Wanderers)
- Gabadinho Frank Hellings Mhango (BidVest Wits)