Flames preparations for match day five and six of the 2022 Afcon qualifiers have been thrown off balance following the suspension of the TNM Super League due to rise in Covid-19 cases.
The Malawi national football team face South Sudan away on March 22 before wrapping up the qualifiers eight days later against Uganda’s Cranes at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
Flames’ coach Meck Mwase planned to start monitoring Super League players this weekend before calling for regional camping next month.
However, the sudden suspension of the league means he has no time to either monitor the players or call for regional camps, which are usually non residential.
Caught off guard by Super League of Malawi’s (Sulom) decision to suspend the league following government’s newly-gazetted laws that restrict public gatherings to 50, Mwase has now opted for an early camp for the main squad.
Said Mwase: “The situation is very bad. We wanted to camp on February 15. Now it’s only proper to have an early camp for the main squad.”
He explained that the rise in Covid-19 cases also calls for early camping to test and monitor players so that those found positive have enough time to recover
With no Fifa date between now and the qualifiers, Mwase has no luxury of playing an international friendly.
“We would have loved to play an international friendly match. But with the Covid-19 situation it’s tough,” he said.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) competitions and communication director Gomezgani Zakazaka said they will wait for Mwase to revise his plans.
“The new developments definitely means the coach has to revise his programme,” he said.
With two qualifiers left, Malawi is on third position in Group B with four points.
Burkina Faso lead the group with eight points while Uganda is second with a point below the West Africans. South Sudan is at the bottom with three points.
The Flames edged South Sudan 1-0 but lost 2-0 to Uganda’s Cranes in Kampala in November 2019 before Confederation of African Football suspended the qualifiers for five months due to Covid-19.
Upon resumption of the qualifiers in November 2020, Malawi lost 3-1 away to Burkina Faso before holding the West Africans in a back-to-back tie.
With the group winners and runners up qualifying for the final tournament to be held in Cameroon next year, the Flames’ chances of making it are mathematical even if they win the remaining qualifiers.
Mwase, who never won a match in 2020, is hoping to impress in the last two qualifiers while hoping for a miracle to make it to the final tournament.