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Africa Cup of Nations

'Mane isn't washing his own underpants!' - Malawi boss Marinica slams Afcon conditions

10:51 pm AEDT 25/1/22
Sadio Mane Senegal Africa Cup of Nations 2021
The Romanian has claimed that there is a clear bias against the smaller nations in the tournament

Malawi head coach Mario Marinica has slammed the conditions his squad have faced at the Africa Cup of Nations while declaring that high-profile players such as Senegal's Sadio Mane don't have to "wash their own underpants".

Malawi are currently preparing for their first-ever round of 16 clash with Morocco, having qualified from Group B as one of the best third-placed teams behind pool winners Senegal and runners-up Guinea.

Marinica is not enjoying his experience at the tournament so far, though, with it his belief that the smaller nations are the victims of a conscious bias.

What's the situation?

Malawi's preparations for Tuesday's game against Morocco have been hampered by a lack of basic necessities such as milk while a number of players and staff members have suffered food poisoning.

Marinica is also claiming that his team have been doing their own laundry, with the Romanian's comments come on the back of similar accusations from the Gambia camp, and he is calling for an explanation from Afcon organisers.

"You wouldn't see Sadio Mane washing his own underpants and hanging them on a bush to dry," Marinica said to ESPN. "Gambia have the same problem, and there are different standards here, teams are being treated differently.

"We talk about inclusion, we want to have minnows, small teams doing fantastic things, but when it comes to the latter stages, people don't fancy us playing against Cape Verde and not Senegal playing Morocco [for example].

"Certain questions have to be asked; why are these things happening to us, why only to the smaller teams, why only to Comoros, Gambia, us?"

The Malawi boss continued: "I've asked my fellow colleagues and team leaders to lodge a formal complaint. I complained to the managers of the estate, and at the current [hotel] we struggled for three days before things were sorted out.

"I couldn't have milk for coffee, they said the milk was finished until tomorrow. We are treated like second-class citizens, but if you're a hotel manager and you see this happening, you take charge, you can't allow it in this day and age, at this level of competition."

Marinica hits out at officials

Marinica went on to question the fairness of the officiating at Afcon, having seen his side denied a penalty in their 0-0 draw with Senegal in their final game of the group stage.

"Honesty on the pitch is important," he said. "The referee in the last match played a huge part in our draw with Senegal, where we had a clear-cut penalty, the player was pushed, pulled and the referee gave nothing.

"Later, the ref gave offside when he should have played advantage, it's as though we are second-rate citizens."

Malawi midfielder John Banda has backed up Marinica's claims, adding to ESPN: "Our clothes haven't been washed, it's true, and we're facing some problems. It's unfortunate that we're being taken as underdogs.

"As Africa, we need to be treated equally, the same as Senegal, Nigeria, all equally. This is a competition, no teams are guaranteed they will win it, and we all need equal treatment and fairness."

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