All Flames players coronavirus-negative
Meck Mwase recalls Khuda Muyaba, Robin Ngalande
Relief was the prevalent emotion in Malawi National Football Team camp after all players tested negative for coronavirus ahead of today’s trip to Ethiopia for a friendly.
Flames coach Meck Mwase was in panic mode after key players John Banda, Micium Mhone, William Thole, Brighton Munthali, Chimwemwe Idana and Stanley Sanudi tested positive for coronavirus last week.
However, there was good news Sunday after all the players tested negative and have been included in the 28-member squad.
Malawi are expected to play a friendly match against Ethiopia on Wednesday before proceeding to Sudan for a must-win Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against South Sudan in Khartoum on March 24 before hosting Uganda on March 29 at Kamuzu Stadium.
Mwase could not hide his excitement with the clean bill of health.
“We were in constant touch with all our players who tested positive. We communicated to them on what they were supposed to be doing on a daily basis so that they do not lose touch. We did whatever we could to help them keep fit. We welcome them back into the squad,” he said.
Mwase has given new comers defender Paul Ndhlovu of Mafco and Ekwendeni Hammers midfielder Patrick Banda a chance to prove themselves during the tour of duty.
The two stand a chance to be tested during the Ethiopia match in which Mwase plans to feature a predominantly Malawi-based squad that would include foreign land-based Christopher John Banda, Schumacher Kuwali and Robin Ngalande.
CJ Banda is playing in Mozambique whereas Ngalande plies his trade with Saint George in the Ethiopian League.
The rest of the foreign land-based players will join the squad in Sudan for the crunching tie. Among the foreign legion making the list are Polokwane City striker Khuda Muyaba, who returns after missing several call-ups.
The Moldova-based duo of defender Charles Petro and striker forward Peter Banda has also made the list.
The bulk of Mwase’s foreign land-based call-up list has stars that turn out for South African clubs.
These are Orlando Pirates striker Gabadihno Mhango, the Baroka FC duo of Gerald Phiri Junior and Richard Mbulu, Limbikani Mzava of Amazulu and Polokwane City’s Dennis Chembezi, whose new teammate Mike Mkwate has missed out.
Attacking midfielder Francisco Madinga, who plies his trade for Georgian side Dira Goli, has also been included.
Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Competitions and Communications Director, Gomezgani Zakazaka said they were playing it safe to ensure that the Flames play all matches with a full squad.
“We have two coronavirus tests ahead of us before we play South Sudan; so, we do not know what will happen,” Zakazaka said.
According to new Caf rules, matches can go ahead even with 11 players without substitutes in cases where the other players have tested positive for coronavirus.
Malawi are third in Group B of the Afcon qualifiers with four points while Burkina Faso lead with eight points from four matches.
From the same number of matches, Uganda are second with seven points while South Sudan anchor the table with three points.
Peter Fote is a Sports Journalist with huge experience in radio and Television reporting, production and presentation. He once worked with Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and is currently working for Times Media Group.