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Hunt for lost Flames

Fam hunts for players in diaspora

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MASINA

Football Association of Malawi (Fam) will put deliberate policy to identify and coax Malawian players in diaspora to don Flames colours.

This follows resolutions which Fam executive meeting made at Nkopola Lodge in Mangochi on Wednesday.

“Fam will put in place a deliberate effort to search and approach football players of Malawian descent in diaspora and engage them to consider play for the various Malawian national football teams. The starting point will be reaching out to Henri Kumwenda, who is on the books of Leeds

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United Academy in England,” says a Fam statement dated January 16 2020 and signed by the association’s General Secretary, Alfred Gunda.

In an interview, Gunda said Fam will release detailed plans on how the association will undertake the exercise.

“We just need to put the right strategy to engage and convince Malawian players in diaspora to consider playing for various national teams,” he said.

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However, former Fam general secretary, George Kauza-Masina, said there were a lot of Malawian players in diaspora who can contribute to the success of national teams at all levels.

“Fam has been singing this song for a long time but nothing has worked for them. The biggest challenge is that our FA doesn’t have what it takes to convince these players to turn for the Flames. Most of these players have been exposed and they have an understanding of how football is supposed to be run at all levels, which is lacking with our football currently,” he said.

Masina called for some soul-searching on the part of Fam to convince the players on the benefits of putting their loyalty to their country.

“The dual citizenship can also be a contributing factor to attract the players, otherwise will continue losing players to other countries,” he said.

Previously, Fam was blaming Malawi’s law that restricted its citizens from holding dual passport.

The development comes following reports that Malawian football sensation Kumwenda, who plays for the United Kingdom (UK)’s Leeds United Under-18 team, could make a sensation transfer to Premier League runaway leaders Liverpool reserves in this January transfer window. Kumwenda had, throughout his football career in the football academy ranks of Leeds, identified himself as being from Malawi but it is unclear if he would be willing to play for the country’s national teams.

Apart from Kumwenda, there are also young footballers with Malawi roots in the UK namely Yewo and Themba Nyirenda who were in 2016 reported to have signed for English Championship side Nottingham Forest’s youth teams. The local press reported that Yewo, 19, was born in Malawi but grew up in England and plays as a striker or midfielder while 15-year-old Themba was born in England.

There is also Lilongwe-born Jeremy Wisten at Manchester City Under-13 Elite squad. Wisten was born in Lilongwe to Malawian parents.

Ariel Johnson, who once played for Malawi under-20 at the 2016 Cosafa Cup in South Africa, plays college football in the United States alongside the likes of Paul Mbisa Junior.

In the past, Flames coaches have been unable to lure the likes of Malawi-born Tamika Mkandawire and Tammy Nsaliwa as they were unwilling to denounce their citizenships of the UK and Canada respectively.

South Africa-born Phumlani Dindi (now deceased) and Elias Tshabalaka, then based in eSwatini, underwent unsuccessfully trials with the Flames.

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