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Flames begin Afcon preparations

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Malawi National Football Team Coach Meck Mwase will use the last two 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifiers to prepare his charges for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals.

The Flames wind up their World Cup qualifiers with dead rubber matches against Cameroon and Mozambique.

Malawi are out of contention for a place among the 10 teams that will battle for Africa’s five places at the global showpiece.

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They ran out of luck after two back-to-back losses to Ivory Coast in South Africa and Benin.

Mwase said the two matches will give him a chance to try different tactics and combinations in readiness for the Afcon finals.

“We arrived safely in South Africa and went straight into training despite the rains here. We want to see how best different tactics and combinations can work out. The Afcon finals are our primary focus now,” he said.

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Mwase said he would also like to use the two matches to assess returnees Hassan Kajoke and Francis Mlimbika, and debutant Lloyd Njaliwa.

“We brought in the three players because of their current performance. They have not been with us for a long time and we want to assess their contribution.

“So far, everybody’s performance has been great. We are all hoping for better things to come in the two games,” he said.

Mlimbika said he felt honoured to be recalled to the squad.

“I wish to thank the coach for recalling me. I intend to show him my gratitude by performing well once given a chance to play. I hope to play a part in the team and work towards impressing the coach after my two-year absence from the national team.

“It feels great to return to the team. I have been enjoying good form at club level, having played almost in every game in the just-ended season. I want to try to replicate that form here in the national team,” he said.

Mlimbika replaced injured South Africa-based defender Denis Chembezi who plies his trade with National First Division side Polokwane City.

Nyasa Big Bullets defender Precious Sambani has also missed matches due to injury.

Mwase has also missed the services of Scotland-based defender Kieran Ngwenya, who recently failed to make his official debut because of Covid travel restrictions.

Malawi will play Mozambique away in Benin four days after hosting Cameroon at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Saturday.

Mwase is also continuing experiments with goalkeepers Brighton Munthali, Richard Chipuwa and Ernest Kakhobwe.

The three have all been tried but none has been impressive enough to cement the position.

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