Mario speaks on Flames final AFCON squad.

The Flames head of Technical Marian Mario Marinica has named his final squad for the Africa Cup of Nations. The 28-man squad has 23 in the main squad for the tournament and five on reserves. The main squad has three uncapped players in goalkeeper Charles Thom, defender Lawrence Chaziya and midfielder Zebron Kalima. FAM Media caught up with Marinica to share insights on the squad selection:

FAM Media: How did you come up with the final squad?

Marian Mario Marinica: It was not easy, it was very tough particular because of the COVID-19 situation. We had quite a number of players who would have made it in the 28-man squad but unfortunately COVID has ruled them out as they did not have a chance to be seen. But also, it was very difficult for some players as we did not have a chance to play friendly matches before making the final decision. So, we made the decion based on what we saw in training. We looked at the value of the players in terms of their current performance and their contribution to the team. If you look at the goalkeepers, we looked at those that have been active recently at club level. We have taken players who are ready to adapt to our new approach. I saw most of the matches locally and spoke to coaches and my technical panel and we came up with this squad and we look forward to make the country proud in the AFCON.

FM: What is this new approach and philosophy that you would like to instill in the boys?

MMM: First and foremost, I would like as much as possible to implement the philosophy of playing fast and very fast, thinking fast, acting fast and moving fast, being well prepared and organised. I hope that will be carried through. This will be well organised when we have our friendly matches and also when we have official matches in AFCON.

FM: So the 28 you have selected are coping with the new approach?

MMM: The players that have been selected are very close to what I am looking for. They were others that would have suited better but due to COVID they are not here and we could not test them. But we have picked players that are willing to learn and are talented. They have speed, skill, height and hardworking spirit and determination to do well. You will see an attacking team and a well organised defence.

FM: You have three uncapped players in the final squad what did they impress you?

MMM: Charles Thom impressed me in the Airtel Top 8 final but also in other three matches before. He is a very good shot stopper. Zebron is very young talented player. Fantastic skills. And so far in training he is the best crosser of the ball. He is small and that is not a problem despite that we are emphasizing on height. He has what it takes to play at top level. Lawrence is the tallest player in the squad. If you look at statistics, he is also the player with the fastest approach and the best header of the ball. We looked at merit and based on that these three deserve to be on the plane to Cameroun.


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