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Malawi Under-23 in wonderland

Junior Flames face Kuwait in Turkey today

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Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Technical Director Marian Mario Marinica has said Malawi Under-23 National Football Team is ready to stand its ground against Kuwait Under-23 at Kremlin Centre in Turkey this afternoon.

This is Malawi’s opening match of the Antalya Tour, having arrived in Turkey on Tuesday ahead of the tournament.

After locking horns with Kuwait, the junior Flames will face fellow Africans Togo in their last match of the tour on Sunday before returning home the following day.

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This is the first time for a Malawian team to play in Turkey and face Kuwait.

Marinica said he remained confident that his troops had enough quality to prove their worth on the international stage.

“We want to see how the players will cope with international pressure at this stage. Kuwait have not lost for a long time and they are strong opponents. Togo is also a good side. So we believe the two matches will give us the perfect opportunity to gauge our players,” Marinica said.

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The Romanian also defended Fam’s decision to send the under-23 team to the tournament.

“We need to build a generation of great footballers. This is a project. We are focusing on under-23 players. We believe the tournament will give the youngsters the much-needed exposure,” he said.

Malawi’s 26-member squad comprises senior team players Charles Petro, who plies his trade with Sheriff Tiraspol in Moldova, and Georgian side Dila Gori attacker Francisco Madinga.

However, Madinga is doubtful for the tournament due to visa hitches.

Striker Chifundo Mphasi, who plays for Shamuel FC in Zambia, has travelled with the team.

Other notable faces in the squad are goalkeeper Chancy Mtete of Ekwendeni Hammers and Nyasa Big Bullets’ Hadji Wali, Kesten Simbi, Patrick Mwaungulu and Blessings Mpokera.

The Silver Strikers duo of Innocent Shema and Tatenda Mbalaka is also part of the team alongside Mphatso Kamanga, Christopher Gototo and Lovemore Mbeta.

Kuwait are coached by Andres Carrasco Carrilo. Some of their top players are Sulaiman Al Saab, Yousef Ayedh, Mobarak Al Faneeni and Naser Falah.

Former Flames attacker Sherry Msuku said Malawi should use the matches to assess players for up-coming competitions.

“This is a good opportunity for the players to show their worth on the international stage. It is also good for the youngsters’ exposure. I am sure there will be more positives from the matches in Turkey,” Msuku said.

The team is using the tournament to prepare for the African Nations Championship, Olympic Games qualifiers and the Cosafa Cup.

Some of the players will also be considered for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers expected to start in June this year.

The Flames are seeded from the preliminary rounds.

The match between Kuwait and Malawi is expected to kick off at 2pm.

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