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3 Flames players test coronavirus-positive

As the team prepare for camp training

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Meck Mwase

Three players have tested positive for coronavirus as Malawi National Football Team prepares to start camp training next week in preparation for next month’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against South Sudan and Uganda.

The Flames need to win the two games at all cost if they are to finish second in their group and make it to next year’s finals in Cameroon.

The tests were conducted over the weekend in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba on all Malawi based national team players called into camp ahead of the two games.

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Over 30 players from a yet-to-be-publicised call-up list were tested and results for Silver Strikers defender Herbert Wayekha, Wonder Jeremani of Blue Eagles and Mafco’s defender Stain Malata came out positive.

Football Association of Malawi General Secretary, Alfred Gunda only confirmed that three players tested positive but was noncommittal on the names.

Silver Chief Executive Officer Thokozani Chimbali said their player is currently in self isolation.

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“We, as a club, help our players fight the virus by providing them with all the required support including counselling and regular visits by our team doctor. We will continue to support all our players when they test positive.

“We had a similar case last time and we dealt with it until all the affected players recovered. We are doing the same right now,” Chimbali said.

Eagles General Secretary William Nkhoma said he was yet to get a report on his player’s status.

“I can neither confirm nor deny our player’s positive test because I have not seen a report on the test,” Nkhoma said.

Mafco Team Manager David Gulaimfa confirmed Malata’s status, saying the player had been sent into self-isolation for two weeks in line with Ministry of Health requirements.

“We are treating the news as normal. There is no cause for alarm. We have been counselling our player to receive the test results with positive thoughts. There are thousands of Malawians who tested positive and recovered.

“Naturally, he is concerned with the news just like any other person. But we are keeping him at our isolation centre and he is getting all the required support. He remains our player and he will return to the pitch after being cleared,” Gulaimfa said.

Flames Coach Meck Mwase, who is expected to name his squad this week ahead of the South Sudan match, expressed concern with the news.

“I have not yet been briefed about the results officially but, if this is true, then it is a big setback. The three are among the players I wanted in my camp and I wish them a quick recovery,” he said.

Nyasa Big Bullets star defender Precious Sambani missed the initial test on Saturday due to a concussion he suffered during training with his club and was set to be tested yesterday.

Malawi are third in Group B of the qualifiers with four points. Burkina Faso lead the group with eight points while Uganda lie second with seven points.

South Sudan, who are reported to have flown to Morocco for camp training, anchor the table with three points. The four teams have played four matches each.

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