Spirits are certainly high as the Malawi national football team, The Flames, regrouped in Blantyre this week for 2018 COSAFA Cup.
Portugal-based Richard Mbulu was the first to arrive followed by defenders Ian Chinyama (TN Stars), Dennis Chembezi (Be Forward Wanderers), midfielder Levison Maganizo, striker Mphatso Phillemon and goalkeeper Brighton Munthali (Silver Strikers).
Be Forward Wanderers players Precious Sambani, Peter Cholopi, Rafick Namwera, Felix Zulu, Richard Chipuwa, Alfred Manyozo Jnr and Stanley Sanudi, also joined the squad soon after returning from Lilongwe where they had Airtel top 8 quarter-final fixture on Sunday.
Moyale Barracks striker Gastin Simkonda, Civil Sporting Club duo of Raphael Phiri and Gomezgani Gondwe joined the squad on Tuesday.
However, seven Nyasa Big Bullets players—goalkeepers Ernest Kakhobwe and Rabson Chienda, defenders John Lanjesi and Miracle Gabeya, midfielder Mike Mkwate, strikers Chiukepo Msowoya and Patrick Phiri—are yet to be released.
Nyasa Big Bullets Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Fleetwood Haiya on Tuesday said they will only be able to release the players on Sunday after their Saturday Airtel Top 8 quarter-final second leg against Moyale Barracks in Mzuzu.
“Logistically, it will be a challenge for us to play a game in Lilongwe today [Monday] against Civil Sporting Club and then travel to Blantyre to prepare for the Mzuzu trip.
“So, we have planned to camp here in the Central Region [Lilongwe] after the Civil game en route to Mzuzu and that means we cannot release our players for national training because that will require them travelling back to Lilongwe to join us for the Mzuzu trip after just a few days,” he said.
The development means coach Ronny Van Geneugden will only have a week to train with his full squad since foreign-based players will also join the team this weekend.
Team manager James Sangala said South Africa-based Baroka FC striker Robin Ngalande and Zambia’s Lusaka Dynamos midfielder Dalitso Sailesi will join the squad on Thursday.
Mozambique-based duo of midfielder John Banda (Ferroviaro de Nampula) and Chawanangwa Kaonga (Coastal do sol) also have league fixtures this weekend and will only be available after Sunday.
By Joy Ndovi