Former Flames captain Peter ‘Mjojo’ Mponda has cautioned FAM, saying there is more than meets the eye on the issue surrounding the absence of key players from today’s international friendly against Rwanda’s Amabvubi in Kigali.
The Flames will be without six key players, the latest being enterprising midfielder Robert ‘Baggio’ Ng’ambi who has ruled himself out apparently because his passport is with immigration authorities in South Africa.
“It is probably the first time that we have had such a high number of players failing to show up for national duty.
“Of course, there might be one or two who have genuine cases, but behind the scenes, it would appear a number of them have issues and have just been diplomatic in excusing themselves,” said the man who led the national soccer team for a good seven years.
He added: “I keep on saying that I feel sorry for the FAM president [Walter Nyamilandu] because despite all his efforts, those that surround him are not helping him.”
However, the ex-Flames on-field leader said despite the absence of some key players, today’s strength-testing match will give coach Tom Saintfiet a chance to assess other players.
“He will have a chance to apply different combinations and tactics. We also need to get a positive result because it will help boost the team’s morale ahead of the [decisive 2014 World Cup qualifier] against Nigeria,” said Mponda.
Nyamilandu said it is unfortunate that the majority of the players that were targeted will not be available.
“It will still give Tom a chance to have a look at other players such as Gabadinho [Mhango], Robin Ngalande, Atusaye Nyondo, Lucky Malata, there is also Harry Nyirenda, Limbikani Mzava, Phillip Masiye, Ishmael Thindwa and ‘CJ’ [John Banda] who he has not seen play at international level.
“But it is unfortunate that some of them are injured while others are affected by lack of travel documents. Having said that, some of the things could have been avoided,” said Nyamilandu.
Saintfiet said just before departure that he was worried over the absence of the key players.
“The situation is not good, but we still have a good squad. This is a very important match because it provides me an opportunity to see other players and see how we could approach the Nigeria game.
“It will be good if we win because we are building for one match—against Nigeria,” he said.
Today’s friendly match will be staged at National Stadium in the Rwandan capital from 4pm.
The Flames, who are camping at Sports View Hotel, were expected to get the feel of the match venue yesterday afternoon.
Apart from Ng’ambi, other key players who have excused themselves from today’s friendly are captain Joseph Kamwendo, Esau Kanyenda, Foster Namwela, Chiukepo Msowoya and Zicco Mkanda.