Tuesday May 31, 2016. 16:04
Despite receiving criticism following his team selection for the 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier against Zimbabwe, Malawi coach Ernest Mtawali remains unfazed.
The Flames manager has been under fire for the exclusion of experienced players such as Robert Ng'ambi and Chimango Kayira.
However, the Nyasa Times website report that the ex-Malawi international midfielder says he excluded some of the players because of footballing reasons, despite rumours suggesting otherwise.
Speaking to Nyasa Times after leading the team’s training session at Sure Stream Stadium on Monday, the former Flames international said his focus is on turning the corner on Saturday against the Warriors of Zimbabwe.
“I know several people are not happy with Baggio and Kaira’s omission in my provisional squad. But I purely did that on footballing reasons just like the way I did with Joseph Kamwendo and others,” said Mtawali.
“Let them talk because this is not the first time but I believe in the squad I have assembled. Our focus is getting the team back to winning ways and I know we can do it.
ERNEST MTAWALI CRITICISED FOR ROBERT NG'AMBI EXCLUSION
“The lads are training so hard and recently we played a friendly with Azam Tigers to check on formations. I am really happy with the progress especially with the work every player is putting in.”
Speaking about their preparations, the ex-Mamelodi Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic midfielder added that it's not going to be easy to select his final squad.
“I know it will not be easy for me and my backroom staff to select the final travelling squad because every player deserves a position - that tells you how competitive each player is,” he added.
“Today we had (Isaac) Kaliati watching the proceedings from the terraces as he is carrying a few knocks.
"But we got recommendations from our team doctor that it’s not as serious as expected hence the decision to let him sit out of Monday’straining session as a precaution.
“He is one of our key players and I know he will overcome the knocks.”
Meanwhile, it is also announced that midfield maestro Joseph Kamwendo has joined the training camp from Mozambique where he plies his trade.