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Skipper John Lanjesi out of Cosafa Cup squad

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By Mphatso Malidadi:

Malawi national football team has been dealt a severe blow after the late withdrawal of skipper John Lanjesi from the squad set to leave the country for this year’s Cosafa Cup in Durban, South Africa, Friday.

In Lanjesi’s absence, Mozambique-based John Banda is expected to lead the Flames.

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Speaking Thursday during announcement of the final squad at Mpira Village in Chiwembe Township, Blantyre, the Flames caretaker Coach Meke Mwase said Lanjesi had been ruled out after suffering a hamstring injury on Wednesday.

“We cannot avoid injuries in this game. However, we have good replacements who can perform equally well,” Mwase said.

The final squad is made up of 20 players with five foreign-based stars. These include Mozambique-based Richard Mbulu, Chawanangwa Kawonga and Banda.

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The South Africa-based duo of Gabadinho Mhango and Gerald Phiri Jnr has completed the Flames’ foreign legion.

The Flames were expected to leave Blantyre Thursday for Lilongwe, from where they would fly to South Africa this morning.

The team starts its Group B campaign with a match against Seychelles on Sunday before facing Namibia on Tuesday and Mozambique on Thursday.

Malawi have never won the regional tournament, which was introduced in 1997.

The Flames’ best performances came in the early 2000s when they qualified for the finals on two occasions.

Their performance in recent tournaments has been pathetic, with preliminary round exits and struggles to score headlining their campaigns.

The full squad is as follows- Goalkeepers: Brighton Munthali, Ernest Kakhobwe

Defenders: Stanley Sanudi, Charles Petro, Peter Cholopi, Dennis Chembezi, Precious Sambani, Gomezgani Chirwa

Midfielders: Chikoti Chirwa, Micium Mhone, Gerald Phiri Junior, Peter Banda, John Banda, Duncan Nyoni, Mike Mkwate, Chimwemwe Idana

Strikers: Richard Mbulu, Gabadinho Mhango, Hassan Kajoke, Chawanangwa Kaonga

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