Scotland-based Flames defender Kieran Ngwenya will have to wait a bit longer to make his competitive debut having been ruled out of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Cameroon and Mozambique due to Covid travel restrictions.
Ngwenya’s unavailability follows the United Kingdom (UK) government’s rules as players require 10-day isolation time on return to the UK.
Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Communications and Competitions Director Gomezgani Zakazaka confirmed the development Sunday saying their plans to have the full-back hit a snag following restrictions.
Flames coach Mwase described Ngwenya’s absence as a setback.
“It is a big blow to us but we have replacements. We have trust in all the players and believe that they will perform according to our expectations,” Mwase said.
The Aberdeen FC defender was hoping to cement his place in the Flames squad following his debut in a 2-0 loss to Tanzania in an international friendly in June this year.
Several African stars based in the UK will not represent their countries during the qualifiers due to the current rules.
But other Flames foreign country-based players including Moldova-based Ernest Petro (Tiralspol Sheriff) and Francisco Madinga of Dira Goli in Georgia have been cleared to join the Flames.
The duo will join the team in Cameroon. Cyprus-based Tawonga Chimodzi has already joined camp.
Mwase is expected to travel with a 24-member squad for the qualifiers.
Silver Strikers defender Nixon Mwase has also been ruled out of the trip after he tested positive for Coronavirus.
However, Mwase has recalled Nyasa Big Bullets defender Nixon Nyasulu to replace the Silver defender.
Apart from Europe-based stars, Mwase has called Orlando Pirates striker Gabadinho Mhango, AmaZulu defender Limbikani Mzava, Baroka FC cousins Richard Mbulu and Gerald Phiri Junior as well as Polokwane FC trio of Khuda Muyaba, Mike Mkwate and Dennis Chembezi.
Cameroon Coach Antonio Conceicao has named a strong squad for the match against Malawi. Bayern Munich striker Eric Choupo-Moting and Zambo Anguissa are in the squad.
Meanwhile, the Flames are expected to fly out of the country today through Kamuzu International Airport to Cameroon via Ethiopia.
The Flames face Indomitable Lions of Cameroon on September 3 before hosting Mozambique at Orlando Stadium in South Africa.
Caf banned Flames from playing their home matches at Bingu National Stadium due to the poor condition of the pitch.
In October, the Flames are expected to host Ivory Coast at a venue yet to be announced. Malawi qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals and they were drawn in Group B alongside Senegal, Guinea and Zimbabwe.
The Afcon finals start on January 9 to February 6 2022 in Cameroon.