Flames, U-20 meet halfway on players

Kawonga (R), one of the Under-20 players being targeted by the senior Flames captured challenging a Chad goalkeeper
Kawonga (R), one of the Under-20 players being targeted by the senior Flames captured challenging a Chad goalkeeper

FAM has said the Under-20 national team players that were being targeted for selection by the Flames coaching panel cannot feature in competitive matches for the senior team.

However, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu yesterday said as a give-and-take measure, the three players—defender Miracle Gabeya, midfielder Ernest Tambe and striker Chawanangwa Kawonga—can only feature during the July 6 international friendly match against Mozambique’s Mambas.

FAM intervened on the issue after Under-20 national soccer team coach Ernest Mtawali said he was not comfortable with Flames coaching panel’s intention to consider the three players for the upcoming engagements.

“The issue was brought to our attention and in order to strike a balance, it has been agreed that they can only feature in the international friendly match because in the absence of foreign-based players, there is a clear lack of depth in the Flames.

“It was felt that their exposure for July 6 friendly will motivate them ahead of the 2015 Africa Youth Championship decisive qualifier against Zambia, but we felt it would not be proper at this stage for the junior national team players to be considered for selection for the [2015] Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Benin,” said Nyamilandu.

He also said both coaching panels were satisfied with the arrangement.

Mtawali confirmed having met FAM on the issue at the weekend.

“I felt the arrangement was fair because my main concern was to include them for the senior team competitive matches because it could have affected their focus.

“My other concern was that these are just up-and-pcoming players and exposing them to too much international football, especially the senior team, would have had a negative effect. So, yes I have no problems with FAM’s determination,” said Mtawali.

Flames coach Young Chimodzi also said they were happy with the arrangement.

“It was felt that they should only be with us for the July 6 match so that thereafter, they should concentrate on the CAF junior tournament final qualifying round so as not to pile pressure on them and we thought it made sense,” said Chimodzi.

Former Flames captain Peter Mponda also hailed FAM for its move, saying it would have been unfair to the junior players to compete for places in the senior team as they are still learning the ropes.

“Of course, the senior team coaches had a point in that these are exceptional players who have been outstanding for the junior team, but they are still in the process of learning and for instance Tambe is just an academy player who still has some way to go,” said Mponda.

Gabeya said while he would have no problem trying his luck with the Flames “it could create pressure in the sense that we also have to focus on the Zambia games. Nevertheless, personally I am humbled with the recognition, it is in itself a motivation.”

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  • Abit Ntila

    Bull dung, I saw teenagers playing in world cup. what logic are you applying.