Flames confident of ending 27-year drought
As the Flames leave for South Africa Thursday through Malawian Airlines, confidence is the overriding emotion in the team that has vowed to win the Cosafa Cup this year, to end the country’s 27-year dry spell.
Ironically, current Flames mentor, Young Chimodzi, was captain of the national team when the country last won silverware in 1988 after beating Zambia 3-1 in the final of the East and Central Africa Challenge Cup.
The Flames have only come closer to glory twice after finishing in the final of the Cosafa Cup twice—the last time in 2002.
This time around, Chimodzi said the Flames are not going to Africa’s biggest tourist destination as tourists, but rather as serious challengers for the title.
Chimodzi said he has collected enough arsenal to guide the Flames to success in the tournament that will be held in Rustenburg.
He said the draw against Tanzania and a loss against Zambia in this year’s friendly matches were results that made the team better.
“We have always said that we want to make the local squad the backbone of the team. Those friendly matches helped in shaping the team. The Zambia match specifically helped us to come up with the final squad of locally-based players,” he said.
“This is the best squad that I can get on the local scene. They will be joined by foreign-based players in South Africa on Thursday (today). We will have a strong squad.”
Chimodzi added that Friday’s practice match against South Africa would help the technical panel to work on the coordination between the locally-based players and the foreign-based players.
Chimodzi said Malawians should have confidence in the Flames.
“Every coach wants to win. We are ready to win. People should have full confidence in us. We have worked on the shortfalls noticed in the friendly matches. We will do our best to win the competition,” he said.
Flames’ stand-in captain, Lucky Malata, said the players have prepared for battle during the three weeks the team has been camping in Blantyre.
“Everybody is ready to fight for the team. Every time people say we don’t have enough time to prepare but this time around we had all the time to prepare for the tournament,” he said.
Chimodzi will travel with 13 locally-based players to South Africa and they will be joined by seven foreign-based players.
Players that are missing out on the list are captain Joseph Kamwendo (club engagements), Atusaye Nyondo (injured), Robert Ng’ambi (injured) and Gabadinho Mhango (injured).
The full squad is as follows:
Goalkeepers: McDonald Harawa and Charles Swini.
Defenders: Limbikani Mzava, Bashir Maunde, Yamikani Fodya, John Lanjesi, Lucky Malata and Francis Mlimbika.
Midfielders:Chimango Kayira, Fischer Kondowe, Micium Mhone, John Banda, Frank Banda, Gerald Phiri Jnr, Chikoti Chirwa and Ernest Tambe.
Strikers: Robin Ngalande, Zicco Mkanda, Muhammad Sulumba and Tizgobere Kumwenda.
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