Malawi National Football Team, the Flames, got a partial relief Friday after striker Richard Mbulu tested negative for Covid-19 but his teammates, defenders Charles Petro and Mark Fodya, registered positive test.
The three players did not travel with the rest of the team to Cameroon and remained in Saudi Arabia.
However after tests conducted on Thursday, only Mbulu tested negative.
Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Competitions and Communications Director, Gomezgani Zakazaka, said Mbulu is expected to travel to Cameroon today to join the squad.
“Mbulu will be available for selection for the match against Guinea. The other two guys will have their next tests on Saturday (today) and can only travel on Monday if they are cleared,” Zakazaka said.
The development means Petro and Fodya have been ruled out of the opening match against Guinea on Monday.
Flames interim coach Marian Mario Marinica described the absence of Petro and Fodya as a big setback.
“It is a very difficult situation to hear that Petro and Fodya are still with Covid-19. The problem is that Fodya is a left back and we don’t have another left back in a country where there is a shortage of left backs.
“We tried but unfortunately we could not find left backs at the level of national team. On Petro, he is a proven campaigner and he is an important player so we have to assess the situation,” Marinica said.
This means Marinica has 21 players at the Afcon finals.
He selected six defenders for the tournament minus Fodya whereas Petro was selected as midfielder.
The defenders include captain Limbikani Mzava, Dennis Chembezi, Gomezgani Chirwa, Lawrence Chaziya, Stanley Sanudi and Peter Cholopi.
In midfield, Marinica has John Banda, Chimwemwe Idana and Chikoti Chirwa whereas six are wingers, namely; Robin Ngalande, Yamikani Chester, Micium Mhone, Francisco Madinga, Peter Banda and Zebron Kalima.
The Flames have three strikers, namely; Gabadinho Mhango, Khuda Muyaba and Mbulu.