Malawi have suffered a huge blow as they prepare for the 2021 Cosafa Cup after nine of their players tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of the tournament in South Africa.
The Flames regrouped on Tuesday at the Mpira Village in Blantyre to start preparations for the competition to be held at Nelson Mandela Bay from July 6 to 18, but without the nine players and assistant coach Bob Mpinganjira.
According to the club’s competitions and communication director Gomezgani Zakazaka, the tests were done as part of the federation’s camp protocols and the players affected are Silver Strikers trio of goalkeeper Brighton Munthali, midfielder Chikondi Kamanga and striker Stain Dave, and Bullet’s defender Gomezgani Chirwa.
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Others are Wanderers duo of Yamikani Chester and Peter Cholopi, Karonga United midfielder Antony Mfune, Blue Eagles striker Gaddie Chirwa and MAFCO’s Paul Ndlobvu.
Zakazaka has further stated all the players and Mpinganjira are asymptomatic and have gone into isolation while head coach Meck Mwase is still in isolation pending his follow-up test to be done later this week.
“All the players and officials underwent PCR tests while at home and those that tested negative are the ones that have gone into camp,” Zakazaka told FAM official website.
“We will be following up with all the positive cases to see who will recover in time for the trip to Cosafa. It is a big blow but we will have to work with the players that are available and no new players will be called into camp.”
The latest development means assistant coach Lovemore Fazili will be in charge of the team until Mwase returns and as it stands, he has 25 local-based players in camp with Tawonga Chimodzi as the only foreign-based player having joined camp on Tuesday.
The Mozambique-based duo of Ndaziona Chatsalira and Schumacher Kuwali are expected to join the team on Wednesday while striker Khuda Muyaba and defender Dennis Chembezi will join the squad in South Africa.
The Flames are expected to leave the country on Sunday for the tournament where they are in Group B alongside Zambia, Madagascar, and Comoros.
Eswatini and Lesotho will kick off the tournament at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on July 6, before hosts South Africa meet Botswana at the same venue later in the day.
Six-time winners Zimbabwe are in action on July 8 against Mozambique at the same venue, while West African guest nation Senegal will enter the fray as well when they debut against Namibia.