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Mario bemoans Flames’ preparations

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Malawi National Football Team coach Marian Mario Marinica has said the Flames had no smooth preparations ahead of the 2022 Hollywoodbets Cosafa Cup slated for next week in Durban, South Africa.

The Romanian made the remarks during a press conference at Mpira Village in Blantyre yesterday.

“We had no smooth preparations as we wanted. First of all, I want to thank the clubs for releasing the players but unfortunately due to fixtures, probably they need to be planned well in future, we could not have all the players at the same [time]. We wanted to work more so that we implement our philosophy of fast and very fast football,” Marinica said.

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Marinica’s fast and very fast football has received heavy criticism from some sections that the Flames are no longer playing entertaining football.

However, Marinica said despite some challenges, his troops will be on a serious mission as he aims at achieving some targets.

“Our approach is to try to win matches. We are also focusing on the Afcon qualifiers and Chan,” he said.

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Marinica named a strong 23- member squad comprising four foreign-based players, namely captain John Banda, Gabadinho Mhango, Peter Banda and Khuda Muyaba.

Experienced defender Sankhani Mkandawire, striker Chiukepo Msowoya, Chimwemwe Idana, Micium Mhone, Schumacher Kuwali, Stanley Sanudi, Yamikani Chester, goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe and Stain Davie have also been included in the final squad.

Goalkeeper Clever Mkungula is also part of the team.

But goalkeeper Charles Thom and Dennis Chembezi have been ruled out due to injury.

The Flames are in Group B of the tournament alongside Lesotho, eSwatini and Mauritius. They will start their Cosafa Cup campaign against Lesotho on Wednesday next week at King Zwelithini Stadium before meeting eSwatini at the same venue two days later.

Malawi will wrap up Group stages with a match against Mauritius on July 10.

Sports analyst Sherry Msuku said the Flames have chances of reaching the quarterfinals this year.

“Our expectations are that the team will do well. We have assembled the best squad and we have trust in the players,” Msuku said.

Last year, Malawi failed to win a match, having lost two matches and two losses after playing four matches.

The Flames have never won the Cosafa Cup since it was introduced in 1997 but reached the finals in 2002 and 2003 under Kim Splidsboel.

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