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New faces in Flames squad

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DROPPED—Kakhobwe

Flames coach Mario Marinica has included five new faces in a 28-member provisional squad for the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (Chan) second round qualifier against Mozambique.

The Flames will regroup Sunday in preparation for the first leg against the Mambas of Mozambique at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe on August 27 before a return leg in Maputo a week later.

According to a statement from Fam, Marinica has roped in Mighty Wakawaka Tigers goalkeeper Dalitso Khunga, Kamuzu Barracks Reserve goalkeeper Joshua Woka, Dedza Dynamos Salima Sugar duo of midfielder Charles Chipala, blossoming striker Promise Kamwendo and Nyasa Big Bullets striker Lanjesi Nkhoma.

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Mighty Mukuru Wanderers winger Isaac Kaliati has also returned to the Flames fold after three-year absence whereas Nickson Mwase of Silver is also back in the squad.

Marinica has maintained the bulk of local players who were part of the 2022 Cosafa Cup squad in South Africa.

But Marinica has dropped Civil Service United goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe, Wanderers attacking midfielder Yamikani Chester and Blue Eagles defender Sankhani Mkandawire.

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Striker Stain Davie, who is on trials at Botswana outfit Township Rollers, has been included but he will be disqualified if he passes the trials.

Marinica told Fam media that the door is still wide open for other players if they impress him.

“We believe that we can qualify this time because we have a very good plan. I have watched Mozambique, they have a good team. For us it will be an extremely difficult match but we have played tough competitive teams before and we will do it if we take the chances,’’ Marinica said.

Blue Eagles in-form goalkeeper Brighton Munthali is the surprise exclusion.

The winner between Malawi and Mozambique will qualify for the Chan finals to be staged in Algeria next year.

Former Flames midfielder Sherry Msuku said Marinica has selected the squad on merit.

“I think majority of the in-form players have been included. This is the best local squad,” he said.

Malawi has never qualified for the Chan finals.

The Flames qualified for the second round of the competition without kicking a ball after Zimbabwe were eliminated due to Fifa ban.

On the part of Mozambique they booked a place in the second round after beating Zambia 1-0 on aggregate.

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