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Flames stars to miss Saudi trip

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LIKELY TO
MISS CAMP—
Mhango

Malawi National Football Team will likely be without foreign country-based players during the two-week camp in Saudi Arabia, raising fears that the project might not be good for the team.

Following the revelations, some sports analysts have said that the camp will be a waste of time and resources.

Football Association of Malawi (Fam) indicated that the Flames will use the two-week camp as part of preparations for the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Egypt in March.

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However, all the foreign country- based players will not be available for the trip to Saudi Arabia as their respective clubs will not release them.

Fifa regulations say players can be released four days prior to the official match. This also applies to local players.

According to arrangements, all foreign country-based players will fly straight to Egypt for the match while other local players will be sent back.

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Gabadihno Mhango, Khuda Muyaba, Dennis Chembezi, Peter Banda, Gerald Phiri Junior, Charles Petro, Francisco Madinga John Banda and Chikoti Chirwa will miss the Saudi Arabia camp.

Midfielder Chimwemwe Idana is also linked with a move abroad, which can lead to his absence if the deal materialises.

Sports analyst George Kaudza Masina said the camp would be important if the majority of the local players make it into the final squad.

“Such camps have been a waste of time and resources.

“Otherwise, these trips are there for people to tick a box,” he said.

Local players, who are likely to play against Egypt, include Brighton Munthali, Lawrence Chaziya, Micium Mhone and Yamikani Chester.

Another analyst Parry Chinyama said there was a need to change the approach.

“The trend has been that we take locals and, yet, we do not use them,” he said.

The Flames will face Egypt in Cairo on March 20 before hosting the Pharaohs seven days later.

Fam will likely spend money on the trip.

However, Fam President Walter Nyamilandu said the association is planning to renew the agreement with the Saudi Arabia FA.

“We are currently pursuing renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which expired last year. If it does not materialise, we will consider having a friendly either at home or away,” he said.

Group D is wide open as all the four teams have three points each after two rounds of matches.

Malawi is second with three points behind leaders Ethiopia on goal difference. Guinea and Egypt are third and fourth, respectively.

Flames coach Mario Marian Marinica said he hopes foreign country-based players will be part of the squad.

“Through the camp, we intend to put together the final tactical touches and we are hoping to have at least a friendly in the last week. We hope to give the whole final squad the chance to gel.

‘Additionally, as in Afcon, we expect foreign country-based players to join the camp seven to 10 days before the Egypt game, as per Fifa requirements and individual club agreements,” he said.

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