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Flames await Covid test

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By Mphatso Malidadi

Malawi National Football Team players are waiting for Covid test results to be named in the squad to start preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations finals slated for Yaoundé, Cameroon, next year.

Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Media and Competitions Director Gomezgani Zakazaka said about 29 players underwent Covid tests yesterday and the results are expected today.

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“Only those that will test negative will be called into camp. We have been doing the test since the emergence of the pandemic [Covid] in line with health protocols,” he said.

Foreign country-based players Christopher John Banda and Schumacher Kuwali were among the local players that underwent the tests.

Zakazaka said full details of the camp would be released today once the results are out.

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The Flames are due to travel to Saudi Arabia later this month to conclude their Afcon finals preparations.

Recently, Fam announced that it secured a fully-sponsored trip for a delegation of 35 people, estimated at a cost of $100,000.

However, the trip is under threat following the emergence of the new Covid strain, Omicron, which has forced countries to put in place strong restriction measures.

Last week, Fam President Walter Nyamilandu insisted that the trip was on.

“Nothing has changed for now and the trip to Saudi Arabia is still on the cards. The team is expected to leave soon after the Airtel Top 8 cup finals.

“We have been advised that, as a requirement, everyone travelling to Saudi Arabia must be vaccinated against Covid. This will be enforced to ensure compliance,” he said.

Nyamilandu conceded that the new Covid variant posed a threat to the body.

“However, the emergence of the new Covid strain, Omicron is of great concern since it has potential to affect logistical arrangements of the trip,” he said.

Nyamilandu said they were treading cautiously.

“We are monitoring the situation closely so that we are not caught off guard. We are looking at a contingency plan of camping in West Africa as a last resort though this will be an expensive option. Whatever the case, we are prepared for any eventuality,” he said.

Meanwhile, Flames coach Meck Mwase has been pushed down the pecking order after Fam opted for the newly appointed Technical Director Marian Mario Marinica to take charge of the senior side.

The association also beefed up the technical panel by appointing two British nationals Clwyd Jones as psychologist and Ged Searson as data analyst and opposition scout.

Fam, in a statement, has indicated that the arrangement is meant for Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals.

This comes following Flames’ poor showing in the just-ended World Cup qualifiers in which the Flames finished bottom after registering five losses and one win in six matches.

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