Malawi Under-17 national football team has suffered a setback after 10 players out of 32 failed Magnetic Resource Imaging (MRI) test.
The 10 players have since been dropped from the squad as they are ineligible to take part in the Cosafa Youth Championship slated for November 19-29 in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa.
The tests were conducted at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre.
Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Youth Development Officer James Sangala confirmed the development Friday but refused to disclose the identities of the players.
“Out of the 32 players, we had four goalkeepers but three goalkeepers failed the test. We have managed to bring three others [goalkeepers] who have passed the test. The good thing is that the reliable strikers passed the test but the team was affected in defence and midfield. However, the coaches have brought in good replacements and they are happy with the squad they have at the moment,” Sangala said.
Currently, Under-17 coach Deklerk Msakakuona has remained with 25 players after bringing in some replacements ahead of the Cosafa Cup. Msakakuona is expected to trim the squad further before leaving for South Africa.
For a fourth consecutive year, Msakakuona will lead the team in the Cosafa Cup as the junior Flames were drawn in Group B alongside Zambia, Botswana and Comoros Islands.
Malawi will start the competition with a tie against Botswana at Gelvandale Stadium on November 20 before facing Zambia two days later at the same venue before wrapping up the group stages against Comoros on November 25 November at Isaac Wolfson Stadium.
However, Msakakuona was not readily available for his comment Friday. A total of eight teams will take part in the competition which will see top two teams in each group advancing to the semifinals.
Group A comprises South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe and eSwatini.
Last year, U-17 also exited in the group stages as the tournament was hosted in Malawi. Malawi’s best ever finish in the Cosafa Youth Championship was in 2001 when they won it after beating South Africa 3-0. But Malawi won bronze medal in 2017 in Mauritius.