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Playing Bafana may not fan Flames

All things being equal, Malawi Flames coach Kinnah Phiri and his bunch of PSL rejects should fly to South Africa on December 22 to spar with Bafana Bafana.

I have yearned for such a meeting, largely because Malawi players badly lack the platform to present their case to bigger and better teams.

Unless on national team duty, Malawi players do not have the luxury of showcasing their talent on any international television channel, let alone having a dance with their counterparts in continental club competitions.

A sickening sponsorship drought meant that Big Bullets were the last Malawi team to participate in the Caf Champions League in 2004.

If you think that the Bullets were able to reach the group stages at the expense of perennial campaigners such as Zanaco and Orlando Pirates, then you appreciate the Malawian players’ starvation.

Sadly, this match comes in a year when the flights from OR Tambo International Airport to Kamuzu International Airport keep on bringing back players such as Moses Chavula, Dave Banda, Chiukepo Msowoya, Joseph Kamwendo, Sankhani Mkandawire and Jacob Ngwira.

Given a choice, I would have loved the Flames to face Bafana Bafana at some other stage and not now when the Malawi team is on its knees.

The match comes at an awkward time, when the Flames B side is smarting from a dismal showing at the 2012 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Uganda.

Having inherited a team of experienced campaigners in 2008, Kinnah now has the mammoth task to prove if he is capable of piecing together his own squad to emerge from the rubble of the botched up 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign.

So far, Kinnah has not demonstrated that he is capable of building his own house.

The match against Bafana Bafana comes at a time when the Flames have completed their cycle, hence requiring massive rebuilding. The bulk of stars who took the team to the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations called it time on their careers while the rest are suffering a crisis of confidence.

Msowoya is picking up the pieces of his career after disappointing spells at Orlando Pirates and Platinum Stars.

Three goals in four Cecafa appearances and a similar return in five domestic league games indicate that Msowoya could be back on his feet. Kamwendo has just reorganised himself at childhood club Mighty Wanderers; weighing in his midfield displays with six league goals in some 17 matches. It is safe to call him a Flames form player. Only he does not represent the future of Flames.

Then there is the new Bullets revelation Gabadinho Mhango, who is capable of causing defence problems when surrounded by a functioning support crew.

In goalkeeper Simplex Nthala, the Flames have one of the best custodians in Southern Africa. No wonder he has just been voted the best keeper in Mozambique, where he was recently playing for Vilankulo.

Nthala plays behind a defence that is relatively solid. But that is all that is good about the Flames; otherwise the rest of the team badly lacks shape.

My fear is that Bafana Bafana will not meet the best of Flames. The biggest losers will be the PSL rejects, who will surely come to South Africa with a point to prove to their former employers and potential suitors. Especially with the January transfer window around the bend?.

Unfortunately, strength-testing matches are a luxury for the Flames. They cannot afford to miss this meeting with Bafana Bafana. I can only hope for the best.

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