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New faces in Flames Afcon squad

Meck Mwase

Malawi National Football Team Coach Meck Mwase has included some new faces in the 29-man squad of Malawi-based players to go into camp on Tuesday in preparation for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying matches against South Sudan and Uganda slated for next month.

Among the new faces in the squad are TNM Super League current top goal-scorer Royal Bokosi of Red Lions, Mighty Wanderers midfielder Vitumbiko Kumwenda , midfielder Patrick Banda of Ekwendeni Hammers, Mafco goalkeeper Jailosi Kapalamula and the Silver Strikers duo of left back Mark Fodya and striker Maxwell Phodo.

Civo Service United striker Raphaël Phiri has been given another chance after missing several call-ups due to persistent injuries.

Goalkeepers in Mwase’s squad are Brighton Munthali, Charles Thom, William Thole and Ernest Kakhobwe.

The home-based players will be joined by the team’s foreign legion next month.

The players are expected to report for camp training at Football Association of Malawi (Fam)’s Mpira Village in Blantyre today for fitness and medical tests.

Training is expected to start tomorrow.

According to a Fam statement released Tuesday, the team is expected to remain in camp until March 18 when Mwase will name his final squad for the two matches.

Mwase justified the inclusion of new faces in the squad, saying they have been selected based on merit.

The former TN Stars mentor said he was not under pressure to perform after getting a three-month contract extension.

“I just want to do my job and we will see what happens next. The two matches are very crucial. We just need to work hard and prepare ourselves mentally so that we win the two matches,” he said.

The Flames will play South Sudan away on March 24 at a venue yet to be confirmed before hosting Uganda’s Cranes five days later at Kamuzu Stadium.

Sports consultant Kelvin Moyo described the call-up as a mixed bag.

Some of the players have been selected on merit after performing well in the league. However, there are others who struggled before the break but have been included,” Moyo said.

The Flames have slim chances of qualifying for next year’s finals as they have four points from four matches.

Burkina Faso lead Group B of the qualifiers with eight points, with Uganda, on seven points, coming second.

South Sudan, who are reported to be camping in Morocco, anchor the table with three points. The four teams have played four games each.

Group winners and runners-up will qualify for the finals in Cameroon. The Flames must win both matches if they are to make it as runners-up.

The full squad is as follows:

Goalkeepers—Munthali (Silver Strikers), Thole (Mighty Wanderers), Kakhobwe (Nyas a Big Bullets), Thom (Silver), Kapalamula (Mafco).

Defenders—Stanley Sanudi (Wanderers), Peter Cholopi (Wanderers), Precious Sambani (Bullets), Nickson Nyasulu (Bullets), Paul Ndhlovu (Mafco), Erick Kawonga (Ekwendeni Hammers), Fodya (Silver).

Midfielders—Chimwemwe Idana (Bullets), Chikoti Chirwa (Red Lions), Rafick Namwera (Wanderers), Felix Zulu (Wanderers), Kumwenda (Wanderers), Duncan Nyoni (Silver), Micium Mhone ( Blue Eagles), Chimango Kayira (Bullets), Banda (Hammers), Mphatso Magaleta (Ntopwa)

Strikers—Hassan Kajoke (Bullets), Stain Davie (Silver), Phodo (Silver), Bokosi (Lions), Vincent Nyangulu (Wanderers), Phiri (Civo).

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