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Malawi invited to 4-nation tournament in Turkey

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Alfred Gunda

Malawi has been asked to send a team to Turkey later this month for a four-nation tournament.

The 10-day event will take place during the March 21 to 29 Fifa men’s international window.

The competition is for players below the age of 23.

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Football Association of Malawi (Fam) General Secretary Alfred Gunda confirmed the development.

“We have indeed been invited and we are looking at the possibility of sending a team. But our focus is on sending a developmental squad because the tournament is for Under-23 players.

“This will be helpful to us as we are preparing for Chan [African Nations Championship] qualifiers and the Cosafa Cup. We believe the tournament will be a good opportunity for the players to gain the much-needed exposure,” Gunda said.

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However, the Fam chief executive kept a tight lid on other details of the tournament, saying they would be made available within a week.

While in Turkey the Flames will play three matches against unnamed teams.

Besides competing in the Chan qualifiers, the Flames will be fighting for a place at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in June this year.

They are also expected to participate in the 2022 Cosafa Cup whose dates are yet to be announced.

Some of the Flames players who qualify for the tournament include Peter Banda, Charles Petro, Francisco Madinga, Zebron Kalima and Lawrence Chaziya.

Players such as Gabadinho Mhango, Limbikani Mzava, John Banda, Gerald Phiri Junior and Khuda Muyaba are ineligible for the tournament as they do not fall within the required age bracket.

Efforts to identify the right players for such a team have already started with Fam Technical Director Marian Mario Marinica engaging some Super League coaches to help in identifying and monitoring players for the country’s national teams.

Marinica said he was aware of the trip.

“We will focus on young players under the age of 23. We want to come up with a team for the future. We are planning for Saturday. We cannot just be doing things in the short term,” he said.

Marinica is likely to be in charge of the developmental side having led the Flames at the Cameroon Afcon finals in January and February.

Former Flames star Peterkins Kayira advised Fam to deploy mechanisms of ascertaining the real ages of players selected for the trip.

“The idea to send such a team to the competition is good but the question is: Do we have an Under-23 national team in place? I do not think there is one. Fam needs to be better organised so that we benefit from opportunities that come our way,” Kayira said.

Malawi made headlines in Cameroon after reaching the last 16 at the expense of established sides such as Algeria.

The Flames exited the continental showpiece following a 2-1 loss to Morocco.

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