Sailesi cherishes COSAFA Cup return

After clinching a deal through the exposure he got at 2017 COSAFA Cup, Malawi lofty midfielder Dalitso Sailesi is itching to return to the regional football festival, this time to help the Flames compete for the crown.

Despite Malawi’s poor showing at the 2017 edition opening match against Tanzania in which Malawi was stunned 2-0 by guests, Sailesi stood against all odds to win player of the match award in the goalless draw against Mauritius in the second fixture.

The former Nyasa Big Bullets midfielder’s exploits were eventually spotted by scouts from several clubs, but he settled for Zambia’s Lusaka Dynamos and penned a five-year contract.

“The COSAFA Cup is what spurred my professional football career. Though we did not do well, I cherish the experienced,” said Sailesi in an interview from Lusaka.

“I am now matured and experienced after a season in Zambia Super League.”

As he returns to the tournament after being named in coach Ronny Van Geneugden’s preliminary squad, Sailesi says he is focused on helping Malawi’s Flames to exorcise the demons of exiting in the group stage.

“Of course, we never made it past the group stage, but losing once and drawing twice was not that bad considering that last year the team had mostly up-and-coming players. This time, it’s a mixture of experience and up-and-coming players and we should be able to do more,” he said.

In 2017 Malawi also produced another player of the match, in holding midfielder Chikoti Chirwa, in the last group match against Angola which also ended goalless.

But this year, the Malawi Defence Force club Red Lions player is not available as he is on a tour of duty in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

But Van Geneugden has maintained nine players from the 2017 squad and included five foreign-based players.

By Joy Ndovi