Flames midfielder, Robert Ng’ambi, says he is very disappointed with coach, Ernest Mtawali, for sidelining him on Sunday when Swaziland came from behind to force a two-all draw against Malawi in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
In an interview in Swaziland, the Platinum Stars play-maker said the Flames could have won the Group L qualifier if some players were serious and mature enough to contain pressure.
“I can’t talk much about the performance of the team because every coach has his own strategy, but to tell you the truth, it seems that I am no longer needed to be part of this team. I am not saying that I am against the coach, but I feel I could have done better than other players who featured against Swaziland,” Ng’ambi said on Monday.
Having also lost 2-1 with an experienced squad at home against Zimbabwe in June, the Flames lie third in the group with a single point. Group winners and best two second-placed teams across the groups will make the Gabon finals.
The former Big Bullets Star feels that Mtawali has lost trust in him and might snub the next call- month in World Cup qualifiers. The remaining Nations Cup qualifiers are scheduled from the weekend of March 24, 2016 with the first game being away to table-anchors, Guinea. Malawi will regroup in two weeks ahead of the Tanzania game.
The newly-appointed coach Mtawali dropped captain Joseph Kamwendo, Atusaye Nyondo, Harry Nyirenda, Fischer Kondowe, ,Esau Kanyenda, Charles Swini, Frank Banda and Zicco Mkanda; a decision which Ng’ambi faulted.
“Much as we appreciate that there is a change in the squad, it is also very important to look at all areas. We shouldn’t have just dropped some of the players because the team lacked maturity. I want to assure you that we could have won the game if some of the players, who were dropped, were part of the squad. As a senior player, you don’t just change the whole team for the sake of pleasing the supporters and other quarters in the media,” Ng’ambi added.
Asked again yesterday on how he was certain that the experienced squad could have Sunday’s won the game when they lost to Zimbabwe, Ng’ambi backed his opinion.
“Games differ. You cannot compare Zimbabwe with Swaziland. I am not quite you will write what I am actually saying, but the bottom line is that I was unhappy that the coach, in the build-up to the Swaziland game, through the media questioned the attitude of some senior players. He should have told us first. The timing of bringing the young players was wrong. When I was young, I was given time to learn. Look at Zambia, they maintain senior players, but we are making the same mistakes,” he insisted.
Mtawali was not readily available for a comment as he is in South Africa alongside assistant coach Nsanzuwrimo Ramadhan. However, Mtawali told The Nation edition of Tuesday that he had no regrets dropping the regulars.
“I think it will be unfair to suggest that we lacked experience in depth. There might have been one or two who struggled because they were playing on such a big stage for the first time, but I do not think it could have been any better with senior players. Maybe I need to clarify that the door has not been closed for those that were dropped,” Mtawali explained.
Earlier, veteran winger Fischer Kondowe said he had no qualms with being dropped. Another Flames senior player, speaking on condition of anonymity, insisted that Ng’ambi it did not make economic sense to fly him to Swaziland as a spectator.
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