Van Geneugden to name strong squad for COSAFA Cup

Malawi national football coach Ronny Van Geneugden will name his 2018 COSAFA Cup preliminary squad on Wednesday ahead of the Flames’ camp on May 14.

The Belgian coach has hinted that he will take a strong squad to the regional tournament to be staged in South Africa.

Last year, Van Geneugden took a squad of TNM Super League players only after failing to have foreign-based stars released for the tournament.

However, this year the coach has managed to convince some of the clubs to release the foreign-based players.

“We will have the final players’ selection meeting on Tuesday. I should be able to release the preliminary squad by Wednesday. But like I said earlier, I want to take a strong squad. Our target is to ensure that we go beyond the group stage and take it from there,” said Van Geneugden on Monday.

Malawi team manager James Sangala said so far, five foreign-based players are available for selection.

“Portugal-based striker Richard Mbulu (Sanjoanense Sports Association) is already in the country,” said Sangala.

“Mozambique-based John Banda (Ferroviario de Nampula) and Chawanangwa Kaonga (Costa do Sol) are also available.”

Van Geneugden has also negotiated with Zambia’s Lusaka Dynamos to release midfielder Dalitso Sailesi.

Robin Ngalande’s South African club Baroka FC has also given the striker a green light to join The Flames at the COSAFA Cup once the Premier Soccer League (PSL) concludes, according to team manager Sangala.

But first choice goalkeeper Charles Swini and midfielder Frank Banda have been ruled out since their Mozambique club (HB Songo) will be playing in CAF Confederation Cup later this month.

Captain Limbikani Mzava has also excused himself due to family commitments.

Platinum Stars duo of Robert Ng’ambi and Gerald Phiri Jnr are doubtful while Bidvest Wits striker Gabadinho Mhango is injured.

Malawi is in Group B alongside Botswana, Mauritius and Angola.

Van Geneugden will be returning to COSAFA Cup after a disappointing debut last year.

The Belgian took Malawi to COSAFA Cup just two months after his appointment as Malawi coach in April 2017.

Malawi lost to guests Tanzania in the opening group match before goalless draws against Angola and Mauritius to bow out of the competition without scoring a goal.

Van Geneugden said he now has a better understanding of the tournament.

“I think this time we should be able to go beyond the group stage,” he said. “I have played Mauritius and Angola before but it will be my first time to face Botswana. But that should not be a problem for us.”

By Joy Ndovi