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Malawi off to Ghana

The Flames left the country last Sunday afternoon for Ghana via Liberia where they will play a friendly game on Tuesday before proceeding to Accra for this coming Saturday’s crucial 2013 Africa Cup of Nations final qualification round first leg against the Black Stars.

Coach Kinnah Phiri has named 20 players for the West African foray.

The squad of local players left Kamuzu International Airport at 15:30 and went go through Kenya and Morocco before arriving in Monrovia, Liberia, today afternoon. South Africa-based players will join the team in Liberia.

Kinnah and his assistant Young Chimodzi who were reluctant to make the trip unless the issue of their contracts is sorted out, have made the trip following a meeting they had with government officials in Lilongwe.

“The Minister of Youth and Sports [Enoch Chakufwa Chihana] has given us his assurance that he will pursue the matter and we have decided to put national interests ahead of our own because this is our country and we are certain that the matter will be sorted out,” said Kinnah on Saturday.

The squad includes Big Bullets duo of striker Gabadinho Mhango and goalkeeper Owen Chaima who will be making their maiden away trip with the Flames for a competitive game.

Mhango, who has two substitute appearances for the Flames earned in two friendly games against China Under-23 and Zambia, is likely to play a role in the Saturday game according to the coach.

“He has been doing quite well in training and for his club Bullets as well and if he impresses against Liberia then I might seriously consider him for the Ghana game,” said Kinnah.

However, while the coach expressed satisfaction with the level of fitness by his local charges, he was not sure about his foreign-based players.

“For the locals plus Dave Banda, Moses Chavula and James Sangala, who were in camp they are fit and ready for the game.

“But I am concerned with the foreign-based players because we will have just three or four days to train with them. I just hope they are in good shape,” he said.

Vice-captain Joseph Kamwendo said the team will fight for a win .

“They have top quality players and are an African giant but they are beatable. We just have to be cautious and have self-belief..

“We played them once and have watched them a number of times. So, we know their strengths and weaknesses. We are hopeful of getting a result,” he said.

The last time Flames played Ghana was in January 2010 in a friendly game in Swaziland as they tuned-up for the 2010 Afcon finals. It ended 0-0.

The following is the full squad:

Goalkeepers: Chaima, Simplex Nthala and Charles Swini

Defenders: Limbikani Mzava, Sangala, Chavula, Pilirani Makupe, Harry Nyirenda and Steve Chagoma.

Midfielders: Robert Ng’ambi, Peter Wadabwa, Frank Banda, Dave Banda, Kamwendo, Chimango Kayira and Ndaziona Chatsalira

Strikers: Atusaye Nyondo, Jimmy Zakazaka, Robin Ngalande and Mhango.

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