By Peter Forte
Malawi National Football Team technical panel head Mario Marinica has named a 30- man provisional squad for next month’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Cameroon.
The squad leaves today for Saudi Arabia for a 10- day camp training through Blantyre’s Chileka International Airport.
Marinica has dropped goalkeepers Brighton Munthali and Richard Chipuwa. Other casualties are defender Nixon Nyasulu and South Africa-based midfielder Mike Mkwate.
The Romanian said he had selected the squad on merit.
“We are looking at continuity. Some of the players like John Banda are ageing. We have also included some players who were not part of the Afcon qualifiers but have been outstanding in the games I have watched so far.
“These players are Sankhani Mkandawire, Paul Ndhlovu, Zebron Kalima and Charles Thom. We have also drafted in Stain Davie and Henry Kumwenda, a former Leeds United Reserve striker, after watching his videos,” he said.
Marinica maintained his earlier statement that the team would not perform wonders in Cameroon.
“We are going to Cameroon to improve our play. We want to concede less and try to compete. This is not the final squad. Some of the players will be sent back after the Saudi Arabia camp,” he said.
Football analyst George Kaudza-Masina hailed Marinica for his choice of players.
“There are several players who have made it into the provisional squad after missing out for a long time. They were never given a chance. We are indeed not expecting wonders in Cameroon but the team can improve under Marinica’s guidance.
“Sankhani, Davie, Kalima, Ndlovu and Thom are some of the players who have been outstanding at their respective teams throughout the year but were never given a chance. Personally, I am happy with the squad,” Kaudza- Masina said.
Former MDC United and Flames goalkeeper Patrick Chimlambe concurred with Masina, saying Marinica had selected the best players on the local scene.
“These are our best players and we can’t complain. I see merit in the selection of the players. My only concern is in the goalkeeping department where Kakhobwe is the only one with experience. The question is what would happen if Kakhobwe gets injured or falls sick?
But the rest of the squad is just okay with me,” Chimlambe said.
The team will leave Saudi Arabia for Cameroon on January 5.
The full squad is as follows:
Goal keepers: Kakhobwe, Thole, Thom
Defenders:Stanley Sanudi, Gomezgani Chirwa, Mark Fodya, Limbikani Mzava, Denis Chembezi, Nixon Mwase, Mkandawire, Lawrence Chaziya, Ndhlovu, Peter Cholopi
Midfielders: Robin Ngalande, Yamikani Chester, Shumacker Kuwali, Peter Banda, Francisco Madinga, Kalima, John Banda, Charles Petro, Chimwemwe Idana, Chikoti Chirwa, Mecium Mhone, Gerald Phiri Jr
Strikers: Richard Mbulu, Khuda Muyaba, Henry Kumwenda, Gabadinho Mhango, Stain Davie