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Junior Flames to leave for Cosafa tourney without home training

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By Mabvuto Kambuwe and Ronald Mpaso:

The Malawi under-20 national football team is scheduled to leave the country today for the Mopani Copper Mines Cosafa Youth Championship without home training.

The junior Flames will not even have enough time to train in Kitwe, Zambia, where the games will take place, as they will have only one full day before playing their first game on Sunday against Mozambique.

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Malawi failed to go into camp for the past two weeks as Football Association of Malawi (Fam) was waiting for funding from the government.

The call-up list was only released on Wednesday evening for the team to regroup in Blantyre before leaving for Zambia today.

But as of Thursday afternoon, the team had not yet regrouped at Chiwembe Technical Centre with Coach Meke Mwase waiting for the final word from Fam.

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“I am still waiting to hear from Fam as to how the team will regroup. I am in Lilongwe right now with some of my players from the North and Centre. Fam will advise on where we will have to proceed from here or wait for our colleagues from Blantyre to join us,” Mwase said.

He expressed doubts on the possibility of the team meeting for a training session, saying time had elapsed.

According to a statement from Fam, Malawi’s participation in the regional tournament was in danger as the association had exhausted its funding for national teams due to a congested fixture for the past two months.

“There was uncertainty on the team’s participation due to a delay in funding of the team, which led to Fam’s hesitation in calling the team into camp and confirm participation with Cosafa. This was due to a delay in the releasing of funds by the Malawi National Council of Sports who are still waiting for funding from Treasury.

“It has come as a huge relief that the funding has been approved. Fam notes with concern the impact the lack of a full camp may have on the performance of the team in Zambia, the association had to make a decision to authorise the trip to avoid the wrath of sanctions from Cosafa,” reads part of the statement.

Mwase has since maintained most of the players who nearly qualified for the African Youth Championship but exited after losing 2-0 to South Africa’s Amajita at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.

He has included deadly striker Peter Banda, Kenya-based Andrew Numero, Chinsinsi Maonga, Charles Thom, Francisco Madinga, Chikaiko Batison and Patrick Rudi.

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