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In search of rock

Meck Mwase still wants Kieran Ngwenya to address defence problems

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Walter Nyamilandu

Malawi National Football Team Coach Meck Mwase has turned to Scotland-based defender Kieran Ngwenya in a bid to solve defensive lapses that have resulted in two back-to-back losses.

Ngwenya was not available for Malawi’s three assignments in the on-going Fifa Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers in September and October despite Mwase calling him into camp.

The Aberdeen FC player, who is on loan at another Scottish side Kelty Hearts, committed to play for the Flames in June and featured in the 0-2 defeat to Tanzania in Dar es Salaam in a friendly.

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However, the left-back did not turn up for the Flames when they won 1-0 against Mozambique last month.

He also missed Malawi’s two recent losses to Ivory Coast in South Africa and Benin.

The Elephants thrashed Malawi 3-0 on Friday in Johannesburg before registering another win in a return match that ended 2-1 on Monday.

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Mwase said Ngwenya missed the Flames’ recent matches because of issues that need to be sorted out at the highest level.

“Ngwenya is a good player and we are missing his services. The first time he came to play for the team, he showed that he is good. We do not have a left back in the team following the injury of Precious Sambani. This is a big challenge that is giving us problems,” he said.

However, Football Association of Malawi (Fam) President Walter Nyamilandu said Ngwenya excused himself from the matches due to the Covid pandemic.

Nyamilandu said there is hope that the player would return as the United Kingdom has relaxed some of its Covid regulations that restricted movement to countries deemed high risk.

“Ngwenya is still in our plans and, if called for national duty, we will pursue the matter with his club. His club and parents were uncomfortable with him travelling because of Covid but such worries should no longer be there because the pandemic is easing down in the country,” he said.

Football analyst George Kaudza-Masina said Fam needs to sort out any other issues which could be hampering Ngwenya’s return.

“For now, we cannot claim Ngwenya as our player because he has not yet featured in a competitive match for our team. Fam should do the needful to convince him to feature in an official match. We need his services in our two remaining games and the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon early next year.

“At the same time, Mwase should identify a natural left footer to act as cover for Ngwenya rather than improvising, which has proved to be costly to the team,” Kaudza-Masina said.

The Flames are stuck on third position in Group D of World Cup qualification with just three points from four matches.

They are out of contention for a place at the play-offs stage, with Ivory Coast and Cameroon fighting for the slot.

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