BY WILLIAMS GONDWA:
Malawi national football team’s hopes of having the services of Robert Ng’ambi for next month’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Cameroon have been dealt a severe blow as the veteran attacking midfielder has ruled himself out of the match.
Malawi will face Cameroon in Yauonde on October 12 before hosting the Indomitable Lions at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre four days later for the reverse fixture.
The Flames are desperate to have a full-strength squad ahead of the match to keep their chances of qualifying for 2019 Afcon finals alive.
The struggling Flames are third in Group B with three points behind leaders Cameroon who have four points and second-placed Morocco who have three.
On departure for the match against Morocco in Casablanca early this month, Malawi Team Manager James Sangala had expressed concern with Ng’ambi’s absence, saying the experienced midfielder was an important member of the squad.
“We will miss his services. Such big games require players like Ng’ambi. But we hope he will recover in time for the back-to-back matches against Cameroon,” Sangala said.
But Ng’ambi said he was yet to recover from the injury he sustained while undergoing trials in Cyprus.
“I am feeling better now but I cannot say I am fit to play. I am still nursing my injury. But I will be back soon. My doctor he has given me the green light for some light training,” he said.
The former Big Bullets and defunct MDC United player wished the Flames well as they prepare to start training on Sunday.
Ng’ambi said Malawi can qualify for the finals in Cameroon with good preparations despite the 3-0 thrashing against Morocco.
“The loss to Morocco should not demoralise us. We only need to continue working hard and remain focused. In football, everything is possible and I am hopeful that they will make it,” Ng’ambi said.
On prospects of clinching a deal in Cyprus, Ng’ambi said he was in touch with several clubs in the European country and remains positive.
“One club official called me last week, asking how I was feeling and I told him that I am still recovering. It is up to them to wait for me but under normal circumstances, clubs cannot sign a player who is injured. So we will see if they will wait until I am fully recovered,” Ng’ambi said.
However, Flames assistant Coach Peter Mponda said Ng’ambi is still part of the squad despite being injured.
“He is an experienced player and is always in our plans. I have been in touch with him and his condition is improving. We only need to give him time to recover so that he can help us in the remaining matches,” Mponda said.
Flames will regroup on Sunday under Coach Ronny van Geneugden who, in 17 games, has won just twice, lost six times and drawn nine matches.
Recently, Football Association of Malawi President Walter Nyamilandu asked victory-starved Flames supporters to exercise patience over van Geneugden, saying he was hired for the Afcon qualifiers.
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