Flames Coach Meck Mwase has included 15 local-based stars in the squad to face Burkina Faso in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying match slated for Thursday.
The Flames are expected to fly out of the country today through Chileka International Airport ahead of the first leg in Ouagadougou on Thursday before hosting them at Kamuzu Stadium on November 16.
Without star striker Gabadinho Mhango due to groin injury, Mwase has included eight professionals in the squad namely defender Limbikani Mzava, who is making a return to the squad for the first time in two years, captain John Banda, Charles Petro, Dennis Chembezi, Yamikani Chester, Schumacher Kuwali, Gerald Phiri Junior and Richard Mbulu.
The squad has been dominated by 15 Malawi-based players including Vincent Nyangulu, Rafik Namwera, Nixon Nyasulu, Duncan Nyoni, Chikoti Chirwa, Peter Banda, Hassan Kajoke, Stanley Sanudi, Peter Cholopi and Chimwemwe Idana.
The squad has three goalkeepers Brighton Munthali, William Thole and Ernest Kakhobwe. Defending midfielder Chimango Kaira is out due to injury.
But skipper C.J Banda said Malawians should have faith in the team ahead of the crucial matches.
“We will greatly miss Gaba but it is also an opportunity for others to show why they are in the team. Mzava has boosted the team’s morale and we are all excited,” Banda said.
Malawi will face Burkina Faso having played two friendlies as they lost 1-0 to Zambia in Lusaka and a goal-less draw against Zimbabwe at Mpira Village in Blantyre.
Local sports analyst, George Chiusiwa, said, despite the absence of Mhango, the Flames have a strong squad.
“The best way to defend is to attack so I urge Mwase to make sure that he has the perfect balance of the team. Yes, we do not have Mhango but Mbulu and Kuwali can provide something different,” he added.
Currently, Malawi is third in Group B with three points, having defeated South Sudan 1-0 at Kamuzu Stadium but lost 2-0 away to Uganda in Kampala. Uganda and Burkina Faso are joint leaders with four points from two games.