Injured Malawi captain Peter Mponda named in squad

By Frank KanduBBC Sport, Blantyre
Malawi coach Kinnah Phiri (wearing cap)
Malawi coach Kinnah Phiri has inlcuded the injury-affected Peter Mponda in his squad for next month's decisive Nations Cup qualifier against Tunisia

Malawi coach Kinnah Phiri has named injured captain Peter Mponda in his squad for next month's Tunisia clash.

The coach has also included strikers Russel Mwafulirwa of IFK Norrkoping of Sweden and Russia-based Esau Kanyenda.

The Flames host the Carthage Eagles in a crucial 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on 02-04 September.

Mponda, who plays for Santos in South Africa, suffered a knee injury in February and was initially expected to be out for eight months.

Phiri has been to South Africa to asses Mponda's fitness and insists he is not taking a risk in naming the defender in the squad.

"I'm not taking a gamble because Peter began light training last month," the coach told BBC Sport.

"Now it's a continuation of his programme - Peter is an experienced player so I don't think there will be any problem.

"He'll know how to handle the game as a mature defender."

The Flames' preparations for the Tunisia clash were affected when last week's scheduled friendly in Mozambique was cancelled at short notice after the Malawian government barred the team's trip.

Malawi's last qualifier came away to Botswana in June, in a match which ended goalless and where both Mwafulirwa and Kanyenda were unable to play because of injury concerns.

Now, Phiri says he is desperate for the strikers to make their return.

"It's a big relief because I was worried about my attack and this game depends on goals," he said.

"If we don't have good strikers in this game, we won't make it."

Malawi are currently third in Group K, level with Tunisia on 10 points with just two games left for each side.

Botswana have already qualified as group winners but with five teams in the pool, the runners-up are also guaranteed a place at the finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea next year.

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