This afternoon’s international friendly match against Lesotho provides a window of opportunity for recalled Flames players to get the nod from coach Ronny van Geneugden’s (RVG) as he puts on the lid to his rebuilding drive.
The Flames host the Likuena (Crocodiles) from the Southern African kingdom nation at Bingu National Stadium (BNS) in what is likely to be their last friendly match as they tune-up for their next 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group B qualifier against the Atlas Lions of Morocco in March next year.
RVG has recalled forwards Robin Ngalande, Atusaye Nyondo—both based in South Africa—Chawanangwa Kawonga and Schumacher Kuwali, who ply their trade in Mozambique and locally-based Chiukepo Msowoya.
The Flames mentor on Friday said the priority will be to get a glimpse of the recalled players “and see if they can make the grade.
“They have been quite impressive during training in the few days that we have been with them. I liked their fighting spirit and attitude. Their fitness levels are also not bad.
“But let us see how they perform in a game situation and also how they gel with the others and then we can take it up from there.
“I do not want to put them under unnecessary pressure, but it is up to them,” he said.
Ngalande and Chiukepo said should they be given a run, they will fight to regain their positions in the team.
Said Ngalande: “It is always a great honour playing for the national team and should I be given a chance to get a run—which is not guaranteed—I will put in extra effort.”
Chiukepo also vowed to fight his lungs out, saying: “Should I be featured, I will ensure that I impress the coach, that is of utmost importance to me.”
While RVG kept a tight lid on the probable line-up, Weekend Nation has established that Ngalande and Nyondo will be thrust in the starting line-up and that the coach is still weighing the options on the prospects of starting with either Kuwali or Zambia-based winger Dalitso Sailesi.
RVG is tipped to feature a 4-3-3 formation that will have captain Limbikani ‘Pupa’ Mzava, Gomezgani Chirwa, Dennis Chembezi and Yamikani Fodya in defence, Robert Ng’ambi, Chikoti Chirwa and Gerald Phiri Jnr in midfield while Ngalande, Nyondo and Kuwali are most likely to team up in attack.
Rookie goalkeeper Brightone Munthali will also be making a comeback in the absence of Mozambique-based Charles Swini.
Likuena head into this match buoyed by their 1-0 win over Zimbabwe’s Warriors in another friendly match at home in Maseru on Wednesday where midfielder Hlompho Kalake came from the bench to score in added time.
The Basotho have also recalled their old guard in the likes of Ralekoti Mokhahlane, former skipper Nkau Lerotholi, Basia Makepe, Nkoto Masoabi and Poland-based winger Luciano Matsoso.
Their arsenal also includes Litsepe Marabe, Jane Thabantso, Kalake and Motebang Sera.
The last times the teams met was at last year’s Cosafa Cup in South Africa where Likuena won 1-0 to end a 35-year winless spell against the Flames spell.
They are ranked 146—29 places below the Flames. They have met 18 times of which the Flames have won 12, drawn three and lost thrice. n