Flames forward Richard Mbulu will be available for selection in their Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) opening match against Guinea on Monday after re-testing negative for Covid-19.
However, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) competitions and communications director Gomezgani Zakazaka yesterday said two others, midfielder Charles Petro and left-back Mark Fodya, have been ruled out of the match after testing positive again.
The three remained behind in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where the Flames camped for 10 days after testing positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday when the team left for Cameroon for the African Championship which kicks off tomorrow.
Said Zakazaka: “Mbulu will depart Jeddah tomorrow [today] and will be available for selection for the Guinea match.
“As for Petro and Fodya, they will have re-tests on Saturday and can only travel on Monday if they are cleared and this means they are out of the Guinea match.”
Mbulu said in an interview yesterday that he felt relieved to have tested negative.
He said: “After my two previous tests came out positive, it was frustrating and worrisome. But when I was cleared today, I felt relieved.
“I can’t wait to join the rest of the squad in Cameroon, but at the same time I feel for my colleagues Petro and Fodya and, hopefully, they too will join the squad very soon.”
Reacting to the development, Flames interim coach Marian Mario Marinica said: “It’s good news that Mbulu has been cleared. It will be a boost for the squad. Obviously, he hasn’t trained for a while, about 10 days, but it’s good that he is available.
“However, it is a setback that Petro and Fodya haven’t been cleared. Fodya is a left-back and we do not have another left-back. The country is short of good left-backs.
“On the other hand, Petro is a proven campaigner and one of the important players and we have to assess and readjust in his absence.”
The Flames’ next match will be against Zimbabwe’s Warriors on January 14 before facing Senegal’s Teranga Lions on January 18.
The three players were left behind in Jeddah under the care of FAM liaison officer James Sangala and medical personnel provided by the Saudi Arabia Football Federation.