So far so good

The players are in Marinica’ s 27- member provisional squad of local players which started camp training on Monday in preparation for 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Ethiopia and Guinea next month. Marinica was expected to release the players back to their respective clubs for TNM Super League assignments this weekend. During the first week of…

Malawi National Football Team Coach Mario Marinica has said some of the players in camp have performed beyond his expectations.

The players are in Marinica’s 27-member provisional squad of local players which started camp training on Monday in preparation for 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against Ethiopia and Guinea next month.

Marinica was expected to release the players back to their respective clubs for TNM Super League assignments this weekend.

The Romanian said all players in camp were fighting to impress.

’’We have seen the players working very hard. They are very determined. Some of the new players are showing great potential to go far in the game and the technical staff is also integrating well,’’ he said.

During the first week of training, Marinica had 22 players, as Blessings Mpokera, Mphatso Kamanga, Chawanangwa Gumbo and Alick Lungu were yet to return from Turkey, where they had remained behind for trials, whereas defender Hadji Wali failed to report for camp training due to injury.

However, Silver Strikers attacking midfielder Patrick Macheso managed to report for training despite carrying a slight knock.

The first phase of camp training is scheduled to end on May 22.

The second phase will comprise foreign country-based players.

The Flames will host Ethiopia at Bingu National Stadium on June 2 in a Group D Afcon opening qualifier before travelling to Guinea on June 6 for the second match.

Sports analyst and former Flames star Peterkins Kayira said the appointment of Marinica to the coaching job had raised the football fraternity’s hopes ahead of the qualifiers.

“This is an encouraging statement from Marinica. It is great to hear that the players are responding well to training.

“However, I do not expect him to change his tone later when things do not go according to plan. We are a football fraternity that is hungry for success and we expect good results from the team,” Kayira said.

In September, Malawi will face Egypt in back-to-back assignments before an away match against Ethiopia and a home tie against Guinea in March next year.

Marinica, who replaced Meck Mwase as Flames coach, recently said continuity and consistency would be key to the team’s preparations for the qualifiers.

Malawi will be hoping for back-to-back qualification to the continental showpiece after exiting in the round-of-16 of the 2021 Afcon edition held in Cameroon early this year.

The Flames have been to three Afcon finals in 1984, 2010 and 2022 and are eyeing a fourth appearance.

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