Malawi National Football Team Head Coach, Ronny Van Geneugden, has indicated that he will feature a strong squad at this year’s Cosafa Castle Cup to take place from June 25 to July 9 in South Africa.
Geneugden told journalists in Lilongwe on Saturday after the 1-0 victory over Comoros Islands in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe that he will feature the squad that played on the day.
“We already have a very young squad with a good balance between experience and young players. So we will go to Cosafa with our strongest team. This is a new technical panel and it is important that we stay together with the squad so that the players cultivate good relations on and off the pitch,” Geneugden explained.
The Belgian said he will use the tournament to continue experimenting on his football philosophy.
“We have a very complete group that has great friendship. The players and officials are all pulling in one direction, which is great for football,” Geneugden said.
During the match against Comoros, the coach made a surprise decision by dropping some regulars including Francis Mlimbika for debutant Dennis Chembezi who had a grand game.
Chikoti Chirwa of Red Lions also played a key role as a holding midfielder.
Geneugden said the technical panel was choosing players on merit and not based on where they play at club level.
“I have nothing to do with where they play, whether in Malawi, South Africa, Mozambique or Europe, I do not care. As a technical panel, we agreed on picking only the best players for Malawi and we have a game plan,” he pointed out.
After the game, Flames Captain, Limbikani Mzava, hailed the impact of the Belgian’s tactics, saying the players are now focused on the Cosafa tournament.
“We played fantastic football. We will remain focused as we go to South Africa and we will do our best to bring the cup,” he said.
Malawi and Cameroon are at par in Group B of the Afcon qualifiers with three points following their victories over the weekend.
Drawn in Group A alongside Tanzania, Angola and Mauritius at this year’s Cosafa Cup, the Flames need to be at their best to reach the quarterfinals of this year’s tournament.
The overall winner will book a quarterfinal berth against defending champions Bafana Bafana.
Last year, Malawi was knocked out of the tournament during the group stages after losing 1-0 to Lesotho in the quarterfinal play-offs in Namibia.
The Flames have never won the competition since its inception and their closest was reaching the final in 2002 and 2003 under Kim Splidsboel.
Flames beat Comoros 1-0 courtesy of Gerald Phiri Jnr’s well-taken free kick in the first half.
He also scored under similar circumstances last year against Swaziland at Kamuzu Stadium in the Flames’ last qualifying match for Afcon 2017.
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