By Nyasa Times Sports Reporter
Malawi national football team coach Kinnah Phiri has defended his decision to call up injured captain Peter Mponda in his squad for next month’s crucial 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Tunisia despite doubts over his fitness.
Mponda, who plays for Santos in South Africa, suffered a knee injury in February and was initially expected to be out for eight months.
The Malawi mentor has been to South Africa to asses Mponda’s fitness and insists he is not taking a risk in naming the defender in the squad.
He told BBC Sport on Wednesday that he is not taking a gamble “because Peter began light training last month.”
“Now it’s a continuation of his programme – Peter is an experienced player so I don’t think there will be any problem.
“He’ll know how to handle the game as a mature defender.”
The coach has also included strikers Russel Mwafulirwa of IFK Norrkoping of Sweden and Russia-based Esau Kanyenda.
“It’s a big relief because I was worried about my attack and this game depends on goals,” he said.
“If we don’t have good strikers in this game, we won’t make it.”
Malawi is currently third in Group K, level with Tunisia on 10 points with just two games left for each side.
Botswana have already qualified as group winners but with five teams in the pool, the runners-up are also guaranteed a place at the finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea next year.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :