Mabedi gets it off his chest

Mabedi gets it off his chest

Flames coach Patrick Mabedi says he has not considered Yamikani Chester for the Four Nations tournament because  the Mozambique-based Costa Do Sol midfielder does not suit his style of play.

The former Kaizer Chiefs tactician said his system of play requires midfielders who can withstand the pressure both when with the ball and off the ball.

Responding to a question on Chester and other players’ continued absence since June 2023 when he was part of Flames squad against Ethiopia in Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, Mabedi said while Chester is good when attacking, he lacks the qualities he wants when the team is defending.

He said: “Don’t take away anything from Chester; he is a very good player. I would love to have him, but unfortunately with the way we play our game, it demands a lot. You need to manage on both transitions. When we have the ball we need energy, when we don’t have the ball we also need energy.

“So, for an old player, it is a problem to sustain that physical ability. So, he [Yamikani Chester] is a very good player. You can’t take away that from him, but if you look at his age, he is getting older,” he said.

Chester during Flames training in his last call up in June 2023

Mabedi said he will continue to phase out old players as he  builds a team of youngsters that can play together for a longer period.

He said: “I told you members of the media in the past that I am building a new team. I am looking for players that can last for a longer period. These youngsters should play together so that they can take us a little bit longer. You will see that I will be dropping the seniors slowly.”

Mabedi said the Flames have been struggling in the past due to lack of transition as the team over relied on old guards.

“This is the problem that we have been having in this country. We need to balance. We need a team that can take us a little bit further. That’s why we go to Afcon once then the next two three seasons we fail to qualify. The transition is poor. We don’t manage it well. We need to have a team that can play together for a longer period,” he said.

Meanwhile, 11 foreign-based players have made the squad for the tournament.

These are Jubril Okedina, (Cambridge United, United Kingdom), Takondwa Maosa of regional league side Brentwood Town FC, United Kingdom), Henri Kumwenda ( Butler University, US), Brightone Munthali (Black Leopards, South Africa), defender Dennis Chembezi (Al-Qassim, Iraq), midfielders John ‘CJ’ Banda (UD Songo, Mozambique), Robert Saizi (Zanaco, Zambia) and Lloyd Njaliwa  (Costa do Sol, Mozambique); forwards Frank Gabadinho Mhango (Moroka Swallows, South Africa), Chawanangwa Kaonga (Zanaco, Zambia) and Chifundo Mphasi (Kabwe Warriors, Zambia).

The squad also has six uncapped players, namely Okedina, Maosa, George Chikooka, Alex Kambirinya, Wongani Lungu and Ephraim Kondowe.

Malawi plays Kenya in the semi-finals while Zambia take on Zimbabwe on March 21 in the other semis.

The winners will clash in the final while the losers will fight for third place.

All the four teams want to use the tournament to prepare for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers which resume in June.

Zimbabwe are in Group C alongside South Africa, Rwanda, Nigeria, Lesotho and Benin.

The Warriors drew with Rwanda 0-0 and Nigeria 1-1 and face Lesotho and South Africa in June.

Kenya are in Group F alongside Ivory Coast, Gabon, Burundi, Gambia and Seychelles.

They lost 2-1 to Gabon and but thrashed Seychelles 5-0 and their next fixtures are against Burundi and Ivory Coast.

Zambia are pooled in Group E which also has Morocco, Niger, Tanzania, Congo and Eritrea.

They beat Congo 4-2 and lost 2-1 to Niger.

Their next fixtures are against Morocco and Tanzania in June.

Malawi, on the other hand, started the campaign with 1-0 victory over Liberia in Monrovia, but lost by the same score line to Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles at Bingu National Stadium.

The Flames are fourth in the six-member group, led by Tunisia with six points, Equatorial Guinea with six as well on second and Namibia with three points on third.

Liberia and Sao Tome are fifth and sixth with no point.

Football analyst Charles Nyirenda said the Four-Nations Tournament is an opportunity for Mabedi to prepare for the World Cup qualifiers.

He said: “Whatever players he calls for the Flames, it’s up to him. But the most important thing is that he has been given an opportunity which other coaches did not have.

“Malawi has never hosted such a tournament since 1988. Come June, there should be no excuses in terms of preparations.”

The post Mabedi gets it off his chest first appeared on The Nation Online.

The post Mabedi gets it off his chest appeared first on The Nation Online.