Flames coach Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) says he has not closed the door for old guards.
RVG was reacting to concerns raised by some quarters that he is turning a blind eye on some players like Esau Kanyenda who are enjoying a rich vein of form.
“Yes, while the emphasis is building a team for the future, it does not mean I am ignoring old players that are doing well. The door is open for those that are enjoying consistent form be it old or young.
“Everybody is welcome, but for the old players, it will be in the short-term. I am open to suggestions that can help build a strong team,” he said.
RVG again defended the move to include more young players, saying if they have the quality, he will be including them.
“Experience should not be an issue because it is something that is gained by being featured. So, if I can’t give them a chance, where will they get the exposure?
“Diego Maradona and Pele are examples of some players who earned their caps when they were as young as 17. So, the crucial factor is how the players are managed after being thrown in the deep end at an early stage.”
Commenting on the friendly match against Tanzania’s Taifa Stars, the coach said they were robbed by the Tanzanian referee.
“He made some diabolical decisions that were unfortunate and unfair. He was clearly biased towards Tanzania.
“Even the two red cards shown to Tanzanian players were just meant to save his face.”
RVG said a win could have been vital in earning points on Fifa rankings.
“But nevertheless, I was impressed with the performance, level of commitment and the atmosphere was good.
“We showed a lot of mentality by playing according to game plan. It shows we are making strides and the team is gelling,” he said.
RVG said he is now looking forward to the next friendly match against Lesotho’s Likuena on November 10 or 11.
Reacting to the coach’s stand on old players, Kanyenda said: “It is at the coach’s discretion to pick players that he thinks will suit their plans.
“But I think players should be picked based on their form and commitment despite their ages.
“But I wouldn’t say if I would be available should I be called. That [issue] is for another day. Nevertheless, it is good that the coach has spoken out,” he said.
Soccer analyst George Kaudza-Masina hailed RVG for coming out of his shell and stating his position on old guards.
“All along, the perception was that he is disregarding old players in the context of team-building.
“But when you have a veteran player like Kanyenda performing consistently in five to six games, then if you are a coach it gives you food for thought,” he said. n