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The Flames return in 3 groups

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Malawi National Football Team Coach, Ronny van Geneugden, has said the challenges which the Flames encountered when travelling to and from Morocco should be an eye-opener ahead of 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers.

The Daily Times spoke to the coach Thursday morning when he was holed up in Lagos Nigeria waiting for a connecting flight to Rwanda before proceeding to Tanzania then Lilongwe this morning.

Just like what happened when they left for Morocco for the camp training, the Flames and other delegates are returning home in three groups with the coach and Zambia-based winger Dalitso Sailesi being the last.

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“We will have to hear as to who is responsible for this. I left the hotel in Morocco at 8 am [on Wednesday] and arrived in Lagos at night [the same day]. I will leave for Kigali, connect to Dar es Salaam then Malawi [today],” van Geneugden explained.

“It is a very important experience for us because next year we will also travel to Morocco for the qualifiers. So, we have to organise everything properly in the next trip. Furthermore, the two games we played in Morocco were very helpful to us.”

From next March, the Flames will play against Morocco, Cameroon and Comoros in Group B race for a place at the Afcon finals. Malawi beat Comoros 1-0 in the first match of the group.

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Only one team will qualify from the group with the Indomitable Lions assured of qualification by virtue of being hosts.

The Flames Assistant Coach, Peter Mponda, yesterday said the first group, comprising South Africa and Mozambique-based players, arrived in Blantyre on Wednesday.

“The other group comprising Righteous Banda, Fletcher Bandawe [Civil Sporting Club], Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers players arrived on Thursday [yesterday] through Kamuzu International Airport,” he said.

Reports suggest Blantyre-based players and officials failed to connect from Lilongwe to Blantyre on time yesterday due to a technical fault with their flight.

Leader of delegation, Daud Ntanthiko who is also Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Executive Committee Member, yesterday downplayed the travel hitches.

“We have travelled in different groups due to flight connection problems. This has been the case because the bookings were handled by Morocco Football Association themselves.

“You remember, we have been saying that the trip was fully funded by the Moroccan Government? They even did the bookings, which caused us problems such that some Blantyre-based people were booked from Lilongwe and vice-versa. Now another group was left behind in Casablanca and when we reached Nairobi in Kenya, we also had to split with others remaining there,” he said.

Ntanthiko further said Morocco made the bookings so as to experiment travel arrangements for visiting teams ahead of the country’s bid for hosting the 2026 World Cup finals.

While in the North African country, the Flames drew 1-1 against Morocco Under-23 and beat Togo 1-0.

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