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Malawian duo at Sundowns

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By Peter Kanjere:

It has been three decades since a Malawian footballer slipped into the blue and yellow strips of Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League (PSL).

The last batch of Malawians to leave an indelible mark at Chloorkop were Lovemore Chafunya, Cedric Nankhumwa, Chancy Gondwe and Kennedy and Holman Malunga but perhaps the biggest of them all was forward Ernest Mtawali— yes before shifting a gear backwards to become a midfield conductor in the later stages of his career, and not a number 10.

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The last Malawian to pass through Sundowns corridors was Robin Ngalande, who, after two seasons with the PSL giants’ academy, signed for Atletico Madrid reserves in Spain.

However, Lilongwe-based Play Soccer Malawi has dispatched up-and-coming attackers Maliko Kwalira (19) and Tatenda M’balaka (17) to Sundowns under-23 and under-20 teams, respectively, for trials and the good news is that they have passed the test.

Play Soccer Technical Director, Davie Mpina, on Tuesday said they had engaged Sundowns management on how to go about the transfers of right winger Kwalira and attacking midfielder M’balaka.

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“They have passed the trials and now it is about negotiations and seeking clearance from the authorities. They first went there with a scout hoping to undergo trials at Santos [in Cape Town] but it did not work out and they ended up training with Acadia Academy. While playing for the academy in a tournament, Sundowns scouts spotted the players and invited them for trials,”

“Both players performed well. Tatenda scored the winner as Sundowns youth team won a trophy. That is why they want to sign both of them. They are very talented. M’balaka plays for the Malawi under-17 national team which featured at the Cosafa Youth Championship in Mauritius last year,” Mpina said.

Sundowns spokesperson, Thulani Thuswa, Thursday asked for more time before he could comment on the trials, saying he needed to cross-check with their junior teams’ academy coaches on whether the Malawian players are indeed undergoing trials with the Pretoria-based side.

Recently, Lilongwe-based football academy, Ascent, announced that they were negotiating with Sundowns for a player-exchange programme.

Football Association of Malawi Transfer Matching System Manager, Casper Jangale, Thursday advised Play Soccer to be cautious, saying under-17 players cannot sign for a foreign club as they are considered minors.

“Such young players need to be protected as they can be dumped and exploited,” Jangale said.

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