The Flames suffered a fresh setback yesterday after three players were tested positive for Covid-19 as the team left for Cameroon for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) competitions and communications director GomezganiZakazaka said striker Richard Mbulu, midfielder Charles Petro and left-back Mark Fodya have been left behind in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and will re-join the squad if their re-tests on Thursday come out negative.
“They have been left behind in the care of liaison officer James Sangala and medical personnel provided by the Saudi Arabia Football Federation.
“The coach is aware that there are just five days between now and the day of the first match, but for now, he would like to see what happens after the re-tests.”
But Flames interim coach Marian Mario Marinica could not be drawn to comment on whether the trio will be available for selection for their Group B opening match against Guinea’s Syli Nationale on Monday.
The coach said after completing the 10-day camping in Saudi Arabia, he felt the Flames are ready for the continental showpiece.
Speaking during a virtual press conference, the Romanian said: “Everything went well, it could have been better, but all in all we are on the right track.
“Of course, we had a few hiccups due to effects of Covid-19 which affected some players’ travel as well as our preparations because some players have to spend days in isolation.
“We also missed an opportunity for a second friendly match against Mali, but all the same it was pretty good.
“The players were enthusiastic and worked very hard, we had good training facilities and good hosts. We care going there to compete.”
Flames captain Limbikani Mzava also said while there were challenges due to Covid-19, the preparations went on well.
“We are prepared to do the job and make our nation proud. We are determined to do well at Afcon,” he said.
The Flames were joined by four more players in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, namely goalkeeper Charles Thom, defender Gomezgani Chirwa, midfielder Chimwewe Idana and Tanzania-based winger Peter Banda.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu, the association’s executive member Tiya Somba Banda, who is the team leader, Covid-19 officer Dr. Precious Mpinganjira and kit master Richard Justin also joined the squad in Addis Ababa. The team arrived in Douala, Cameroon in the afternoon from where they connected to their Bafoussam base later on.