Flames in visa hitches
Malawi National Football Team Thursday failed to travel to Saudi Arabia due to logistical challenges.
The Flames were scheduled to fly out to Saudi Arabia for a two-week camp training as part of preparations for the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying matches against Egypt later this month.
The Flames failed to start off as they were still waiting for issuance of their visas.
Following the changes, the team is expected to fly out either Friday or Saturday.
Football Association of Malawi (Fam) President Walter Nyamilandu said organisers of the trip had revised the itinerary.
“We have been advised that our team will leave for Saudi Arabia by this weekend. There has been an assurance that this change will not affect the duration of stay and our camping programme,’’ Nyamilandu said.
While in Saudi Arabia, the Flames will play three friendlies with some unnamed teams.
Malawi played a friendly against Lesotho about three weeks ago which ended 1-1 at Bingu National Stadium.
The two teams then played a practice match which the visitors won 1-0 at Civo Stadium.
Fam Technical Manager James Sangala said they were keeping their fingers crossed.
“We are waiting for communication from our Saudi Arabia counterparts,’’ Sangala said.
Flames coach Mario Marinica has named a 25-member squad that includes three foreign country-based players namely Kieran Ngwenya, Francisco Madinga and John Banda.
Charles Petro, who featured for the Flames against Lesotho, has been ruled out after his club decided against releasing him.
Marinica is expected to name his final squad for the match against Egypt after the camping in Saudi Arabia.
Some of the foreign country-based players will fly straight to Egypt for the first leg slated for March 24 in Cairo before the return match four days later at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.
If the trip materialises, it will be the second time for the Flames to travel to Saudi Arabia after a similar camp en-route to Cameroon for the 2021 Afcon finals.