Tongues have been wagging that Football Association of Malawi (FAM) sent a bloated delegation to the tournament but general secretary Alfred Gunda has clarified that it was important to send the extra members for capacity building as the association is preparing to host a CAF Under-17 qualifiers in December 2022.
These extra member comprise 2 vice-presidents, an executive committee member and five heads of member associations of which five are from FAM’s competitions committee.
Gunda dodged our request of the names of the delegation only saying the members were to have a hands on learning experience on how CAF tournaments are organised “for effective execution of the Under-17 tournament.
“It is on capacity building program to learn as the members will be part of the organising committee of the Under-17 tournament,” he said, adding that the other members “have designated assignments as per their titles as defined in the CAF Competitions Management System”.
Fans back home were also incredulous that FAM only sent a 23-member squad instead of 28 as other nations but general secretary Alfred Gunda clarified that Confederation of African Football (CAF) initially indicated that a team shall comprise 23 players.
FAM has since sent five reserve players — Brighton Munthali, Paul Ndlobvu, Dan Chimbalanga, Gerald Phiri and Stain Dave — to beef up the Flames squad which was depleted after six of the 23-man team tested positive of CoVID-19 just 24 hours before their opening Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) match on Monday against Guinea which they lost 0-1.
Defenders Peter Cholopi, Lawrence Chaziya, Stanley Sanudi; midfielders Chikoti Chirwa and Robin Ngalande and striker Gabadinho Mhango — including head of technical panel, Mario Marinica; goalkeeper trainer Swadick Sanudi and physiotherapist Chikondi Mandalasi — were unavailable for the crucial match after testing positive of the virus.
The nine were put in isolation under the supervision of the team’s CoVID-19 medical team led by Dr. Precious Kadzamira and were expected to undergo another test on Wednesday (January 12).
While hoping that they would be declared negative and cleared for the next match against Zimbabwe on Friday, January 14, FAM has sent in the additional players.
The CoVID-19 positivity played a huge part to the Flames inefficiency to utilize their countless chances they had which could earned them a deserving win.
They took the game with verve and vitality; caught their experienced opponents off guard with their offensive play; forced the best out of the Guinean goalkeeper that even pre-match, halftime and full time SuperSport analysts, former internationals — South African Andre Arendse and Ghanaian Asamoah Gyan — doffed their hearts off the Flames for their positive offensive performance.
Coach Meck Mwase had to make do of the available players as he only had four substitutes — two goalkeepers William Thole and Charles Thom and two in-field players Richard Mbulu and Zobran Kalima.
He started with Ernest Kakhobwe in goals; defenders Dennis Chembezi, Limbikani Mzava, Gomezgani Chirwa; midfielders Francisco Madinga, John Banda, Chimwemwe Idana, Micium Mhone, strikers Peter Banda, Khusa Muyaba and Yamikani Chester — in a 3-4-1-2 formation.
According to Chapter 30 (article 72) of the competition’s rules and regulations says 10 days before first match a list of maximum 23 players must be submitted to CAF secretariat and teams concerned.
Any national FA that does not conform to this provision was to pay a fine of US$20,000 and no other modification to the 23-member squad would have bee allowed unless in cases of force majeure recognized as such by the organizing committee.
A player on the final list cannot be replaced unless seriously injured at the latest 24 hours before the beginning of the first match where the CAF medical committee must approve his substitution in writing upon receiving a detailed medical certificate.
Gunda said the additional 5 players were optional and only to be used when one of the confirmed 23 has been injured and certified so by CAF.
“The change to have all the 28 included happened 3 days before the start of the tournament start. You will note that other countries like Zimbabwe also travelled with 23 players as regulation had stipulated,” he said,
The Flames technical team comprise coach and three assistants, goalkeeper trainer, team manager, team doctor, physiotherapist, psychologist, data analyst, CoVID-19 officer, security officer, 2 liaison personnel, head of delegation, FAM president, media director and kit master — a total of 45.
Meanwhile, Flames midfielder Peter Banda told Fam.mw that playing good football without getting points is nothing if the Flames are to qualify for the knock-out stages.
Peter Banda was one of the Flames’ outstanding players during the match against Guinea which the Flames lost 1-0 despite creating more goal scoring opportunities than their opponents.
The Tanzanian Simba FC winger, who has been praised by international media for his performance, said individual brilliance does not matter if it doesn’t help the team to win matches.
“People are saying I had a good game,” he is quoted as saying by Fam.mw. “I think by my standard that was not the best. I could have done better.
“But we have to look at the bigger picture. Football is about winning games and in this tournament at this level it is about getting points. We failed to get points despite playing well and creating more chances.
” So playing good and attractive football doesn’t count if you don’t win matches. I can’t be proud that I played well when I didn’t help my team to get points.
“In the remaining two games we need to improve our finishing because at this level we can’t afford to be missing such chances.
“We still have a chance to qualify for the knockout stages and destiny is still in our hands. We just have to get the needed points in the remaining two games,” Banda is quoted as saying ahead of the second game against Zimbabwe on Friday with the last group qualifier against Senegal set for Tuesday next week.
Senegal and Guinea tie on three points after each chalking 1-0 wins in their opening matches.