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Flames pair cleared of Covid

CAN AFFORD A SMILE—Mzava (right)

Malawi National Football Team, the Flames, has received a huge boost after striker Richard Mbulu and captain Limbikani Mzava tested negative for coronavirus.

Mbulu and Mzava, who are roommates, were in isolation after the Baroka striker tested positive for Covid last week.

Both players missed Flames’ 2-1 win over Comoros Islands in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Friday.

However, there was good news Sunday after all the players, including Mbulu and Mzava, tested negative.

Leader of delegation Chimango Munthali, who is also Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Executive Committee Member, confirmed the development Sunday.

“The whole team went for Covid test and it is good that all the players tested negative,” Munthali said.

The Flames are expected to face Mali in another friendly either today or tomorrow before leaving Saudi Arabia for Cameroon on Wednesday.

Malawi warmed up with a 2-1 win over Comoros courtesy of Gabadinho Mhango and Khuda Muyaba’s goals.

Flames interim coach Marian Mario Marinica named his 23-member squad for Afcon finals on Thursday night.

The squad comprises three uncapped players namely goalkeeper Charles Thom, defender Lawrence Chaziya and winger Zebron Kalima.

However, experienced forward Gerald Phiri Junior has been omitted from the final squad and has since announced his retirement from international football.

Meanwhile, four players, namely Peter Banda, Chimwemwe Idana, Gomezgani Chirwa and Thom, who were not in Saudi Arabia, are expected to depart from their respective places on Tuesday.

Banda will travel from Tanzania whereas Idana, Thom and Chirwa will meet the rest of the squad in Addis Ababa enroute to Cameroon on Wednesday.

The Simba SC forward was still in Tanzania due to club commitments.

However, Banda did not even make the substitutes bench in Simba’s 2-1 win over Azam FC on Saturday.

Banda said he eager to feature for the Flames at the Afcon finals.

“I am in good shape and ready to represent my beloved country at Afcon finals. This is a life opportunity for me,” Banda said.

The Flames will start the Afcon campaign against Guinea on January 10 before facing Zimbabwe and Senegal on January 14 and 18, respectively.

This is the third appearance for the Flames in continental showpiece after 1984 in Ivory Coast and 2010 in Angola.

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