Flames Coach Ernest Mtawali has released his final travelling squad for Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Zimbabwe. Among the notable faces missing on the list is Silver Strikers goalkeeper Brighton Munthali who has been Mtawali’s first choice goalkeeper since the slump in form of Mozambican based Simplex Nthala.
Apart from Munthali, Mtawali has also dropped Blue Eagles goal-stopper John Soko who has been a bench-warmer for the flames in the past three games. Instead, the former Flames international has opted for veteran Charles Swini and Bullets in-form goal-keeper Ernest Kakhobwe who was called into camp mid-way the preparations.
Mtawali has also selected defender Pilirani Zonda who was only drafted into the provisional squad following the injury to South African based Limbikani Mzamva.
Apart from Kakhobwe, the Flames Coach has also given Be Forward Wanderers’ defending mid-fielder Rafiq Namwera his first call up since rising to fame.
Veteran striker, Peter “the big fighter” Wadabwa has also forced his way back to the Flames travelling squad.
Wadabwa who along with Namwera have been Wanderer’s best players since the league kicked off has been out of the Flames sight since returning from South Africa where he played professional football.
Speaking to Nyasa Times after making his final cut, Mtawali said it was a challenge to come up with the final travelling squad claiming each player deserved a ticket to Zimbabwe.
“Wena (referring to the Nyasa Times reporter), it was not easy to drop players who have been at their best during the preparations. I don’t think they are completely out of my sight. Mind you we have COSAFA ahead and we can make changes to the squad anytime so they still are part of our plans,” said Mtawali.
Mtawali also bemoaned the loss of midfielder Isaac Kaliati who pulled out of camp on Tuesday morning due to an injury. He said Kaliati is among the players he has built his philosophy on and will surely be missed during Zimbabwe’s match.
The final travelling squad is as follows:
Charles Swini and Ernest Kakhobwe,
Harry Nyirenda, Francis Mlimbika, John Lanjesi, Miracle Gabeya, Stanley Sanudi, Yamikani Fodya and Pilirani Zonda, Midfielders; Joseph Kamwendo, John Banda, Micium Mhone, Wonder Jeremani, Rafiq Namwera, Gerald Phiri Junior, Dalitso Sailesi,
Chiukepo Msowoya, Peter Wadabwa, Muhhamad Sulumba , Frank Gabadhinho Mhango.
The team is expected to depart for Zimbabwe on Friday via Chileka International Airport at 9 oclock in the morning.
Meanwhile, inside sources have tipped Nyasa Times that the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has secured a friendly for the flames with COSAFA host Namibia on 8 June. Initially, the AFCON tie with Zimbabwe was scheduled for Saturday 4 June but the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has shifted the match to Sunday 5 June at Rufaro Stadium.
From Zimbabwe, the team is expected to connect direct to Namibia for COSAFA competition scheduled for 12-25 June. At COSAFA, The Flames are in group B alongside Angola, Lesotho and Mauritius.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :