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I don’t influence selection— Peter Mponda

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Malawi National Football Team Assistant Coach, Peter Mponda, has defended Coach, Ronny van Geneugden’s player-selection for the trip to Morocco, insisting that it was based on merit and prevailing circumstances.

Mponda, whose Premier Bet Wizards have contributed Simeon Singa and Denis Chembezi to the Flames squad against none for Silver Strikers, explained what informed van Geneugden’s omission of the Bankers’ players such as Levison Maganizo, Brighthon Munthali, Chisomo Mpachika and Matthews Sibale.

“Brighton and Matthews were called up in camp. Brighton is a keeper for the future. If we were to travel with three keepers, he could have made it but the coach opted for Charles Swini and Ernest Kakhobwe, who are in-form,” Mponda said before he departed for Morocco on Wednesday for the training camp.

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“For Matthews, he was competing for a place against Gabadinho Mhango and Richard Mbulu. We all know Gaba’s quality and Mbulu played well the last time he featured for the Flames.

“The coach opted for Fletcher Bandawe of Civil Sporting Club because he can give us options when the team switches to long balls upfront. Fletcher wins all aerial balls. As for Levision, he is injured.

“As for the Wizards players, Singa was already part of the team that played China before the coach came to Malawi. Chembezi also featured in all the three games which Malawi played recently. Furthermore, Wizards’ style of play makes it easier for its players to adapt to the coach’s playing philosophy.”

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Mponda then shrugged off talk that he influences the player-selection, saying the coach scouts for players and consults other assistant coaches Deklerk Msakakuona and Gerald Phiri senior.

“People might think I am saying this because I am part of the coaching panel, but why are they not complaining that the coach has drafted in the team three new players from Civil? The problem is that people think the national team is for players of Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers, but things have changed.”

Silver are the most in-form team locally. The Bankers won the inaugural Airtel Top 8 Cup recently and they are the only unbeaten TNM Super League team going into tomorrow’s final first-round decider against leaders Be Forward Wanderers.

Silver are second on the league table with 32 points, two points behind Wanderers. Both teams, who meet at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe Sunday, have played 14 games each.

Other theories suggest that van Geneugden might be holding on to a grudge against Silver after they, in a calculated manner, clung to their players who were supposed to be in the Flames’ camp, so that they could feature first in the Airtel Cup final against Wanderers.

The Flames coach sent back the players when they reported for camp training after the final.

Last week, Silver interim General Secretary, Thabo Nyirenda, cried foul over the exclusion of the team’s players from the Flames squad. At the last Cosafa Castle Cup, Silver contributed Mpachika.

On Thursday, Silver Team Manager, Francis Songo, said what matters the most is that their players are called up to learn from the national team.

Van Geneugden was not readily available for a comment. But Football Association of Malawi President, Walter Nyamilandu, insisted that the coach was better placed to justify his selection.

“It is a technical matter. He has the reasons. At the end of the day, he is in charge of player-selection and fielding of players. The harsh reality is that football is played by 11 players with some as substitutes. So, you cannot accommodate all the good players. Some will always be left behind,” Nyamilandu said.

In other countries such as Egypt, the Pharaohs’ squad, sometimes, only comprise players from that country’s giant clubs, Zamalek and Al Ahly. In 2008, Sudan qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations finals with players drawn from just two clubs—Al Hilal and Al Merreikh.

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