SOCCER - Manzini Wanderers' central defender Elias 'The Horse' Tsabalaka has received a call up to join the Malawian national team, affectionately known as the 'Flames'.
The player left the country a month ago to join a top Malawian side Escom United after failing to reach an agreement with Wanderers on a new contract. According to information gathered, the talented defender impressed the Malawian Premier League champions, coached by Young Chimodzi.
The defender has been making headlines in Malawi media after producing a splendid performance for his team during his new friendly games.
The talented defender will team up with Malawi top striker Noel Mkandawire, who once came to the country with the intention of joining Manzini Sundowns but proved to be too expensive for the Manzini-based outfit. His coach Chimodzi has already recommended Tsabalaka to national team head coach, Kinnah Phiri, who was equally impressed about the player as he attended the game. Chimodzi confirmed yesterday that the player was part of the 'Flames' team preparing for an international friendly game against South Africa on 30 September.
"Elias is a very good and strong defender, who commands his defence so well. We need a player of his calibre in the national team and that is the reason I recommended him to Phiri. I have no doubt that he will leave a mark," he said confidently. The over-excited player confirmed his call up yesterday, saying: "My call-up is actually long over-due. I was supposed to team up with the squad before the start of the 2010 World Cup Qualifiers but due to unforeseen circumstances I could not honour that call-up. The national team’s assistant coach Chimodzi recommended me to head-coach Phiri. The entire national team technical staff came to watch me training with Escom United and were impressed with what they saw. They told me that the only thing left is for them to see me in action for the squad to make sound assessment of my performance." The player said he was looking forward to wearing his national team's jersey and further highlighted that playing for the 'Flames' will open up doors for his dream of playing internationally. The player also clarified the wide-spread belief that he was from Zimbabwe. "My mother is a Zimbabwean, while my father is from Malawi.
I was born in Zimbabwe and grew up playing football in that country and I came straight from Zimbabwe when joining Wanderers.
But, my family, including my sisters, brothers and grandparents are in Malawi," he said.
The Malawi national team will be using the South Africa friendly game to prepare for the next month's 2010 AFCON/World Cup Qualifier against Democratic Republic of Congo.