Malawi national football team, the Flames, will miss stand-in captain John CJ Banda and striker Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango when they face Comoros away in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier next month.
Band—who plays for Mozambique outfit Ferroviario de Nampula—and Bidvest Wits striker Mhango are suspended after accumulating two yellow cards each.
Mhango got his first card during the match against Morocco for ‘dissent words’ against a referee while Banda was cautioned during the match against Comoros for unsporting behaviour, according to Confederation of African Football (CAF) records.
They two got their second yellows during the match against Cameroon at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
“Unfortunately, we will not be travelling with them to Comoros,” said team manager James Sangala.
The two join injured captain Limbikani Mvaza (Golden Arrows), Gerald Phiri Jnr (Platinum Stars), Atusaye Nyondo (unattached), Rafique Namwera (Be Forward Wanderers) and Chikoti Chirwa (Red Lions) who are also doubtful for the match.
Mzava excused himself from the Cameroon match, saying he needed time to recuperate from a knee injury sustained at his club.
Though he played against Free State Stars on Wednesday, his club insists that the Flames captain is not fully fit.
Sangala refused to comment on Mzava’s ‘purported’ injury.
Phiri Jnr and Nyondo, on the other hand, suffered injuries during the match against Morocco while holding midfielder Chirwa had a knock during the match against Cameroon when he blocked Zoua Daogari Jacques from scoring.
Namwera is out for six weeks after sustaining an injury during Fisd Challenge Cup round of 32 match against Masters Security on Tuesday at Kamuzu Stadium.
However, coach Ronny Van Geneugden (RVG) downplayed the absence of the key players, saying there are up-and-coming players waiting in the wings.
“There are young players who are knocking on the door. I have been giving them some game time and we must congratulate them for showing that they are ready for the big job,” he said.
The match against Comoros is crucial for the Flames who have to win at all cost to remain in contention.
A loss will mean fourth-placed Comoros—who have two points from two draws—will replace third-placed Malawi with the last round of games remaining.
While Malawi and Comoros are sorting it out, Group leaders Cameroon, who have eight points, face second-placed Morocco who have seven points.
Since Cameroon already qualify as hosts, the three other teams are fighting for one slot.