Mabedi for full-strength squad

Flames coach Patrick Mabedi says he will call a full strength squad, including all active foreign-based players, for the four-nation tournament which Malawi will host this month.

The Flames are expected to go into camp tomorrow in preparation for the tournament scheduled for Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe during the Fifa international window from March 18-26 and will involve Kenya’s Harambee Stars, Zambia’s Chipolopolo and Zimbabwe’s Warriors as well as their under-20 national football teams.

In an interview on Thursday, Mabedi said the tournament will give him an opportunity to assess all players ahead of upcoming tournaments, including the Cosafa Cup  which is pencilled for May 22 to June 2 in Durban, South Africa; the 2026 World Cup and the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

He said: “This tournament is the perfect way to assess all the players. I have called all foreign-based players that are active so that we have a look at them ahead of the upcoming competitions.”

Mabedi thanked Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and their Zambia, Kenya as well as Zimbabwe counterparts for the tournament.

He said: “We don’t usually get this opportunity to play two matches on a Fifa international window. This is a  big opportunity for us to assess the players as we prepare for the 2026 Fifa World Cup and 2025 Afcon qualifiers since between now and June there is no other Fifa date.”

A draw for the competition is yet to be released, but it is expected that the winners will clash in the final while the losers will play in third place-play-offs.

“Since each team will play at least two games, we have an opportunity to give a chance to all the players to feature during the tournament.

 “I have called about 40 local and foreign-based players for the first week of camp. Then we will trim the number to 30 before coming up with the last squad of about 25 players.”

The tournament will see the return of South Africa-based Frank Gabadinho Mhango, among other players based in Mozambique, Zambia and Europe.

The Moroka Swallows forward missed the last two 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Tunisia and Liberia.

Mabedi ruled him out of the games for missing a flight to Blantyre from his Johannesburg base enroute to Liberia.

Zambia’s Zanaco FC forward Chawanangwa Kaonga, on the other hand, missed the two qualifiers after sustaining an injury in the last 2023 Afcon qualifiers against Guinea.

FAM competitions and communications director Gomezgani Zakazaka said the team will camp in Blantyre for two weeks before moving to Lilongwe

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