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Flames suffer Covid blow

Meck Mwase, Lovemore Fazili test positive

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Alfred Gunda

Malawi National Football Team suffered a setback yesterday after coach Meck Mwase, his assistant Lovemore Fazili and defender Peter Cholopi tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of tomorrow’s international friendly against Tanzania’s Taifa Stars.

The trio did not travel with the team yesterday. The match is slated for Benjamin Mkapa Stadium, Dar Es Salaam.

Football Association of Malawi (Fam) website reported yesterday that Mwase, Fazili and Cholopi were all asymptomatic and had gone into isolation.

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In the absence of Mwase and Fazili, assistant coach Bob Mpinganjira will be in-charge of the team during the match.

The team flew out of the country yesterday as Mwase named a 22-member squad, with Scotland-based defender Kieran Ngwenya, Mighty

Wanderers midfielder Vitumbiko Kumwenda and Nyasa Big Bullets defender Eric Kaonga making their debut outing with the team.

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Mpinganjira told Fam Media that the Flames were geared for the match.

“It is unfortunate that coach Mwase and Fazili will not be with us just like Cholopi and other players. The preparations have gone on well and players looked good in training and we hope we will do well in Tanzania,” Mpinganjira, who is also a Wanderers Coach, said.

“The new players have done well in training and now it is time for them to show that they are ready to be part of this project.”

Football Association of Malawi General Secretary, Alfred Gunda, confirmed the development, saying Mpinganjira will lead the coaching panel.

“It is a big blow to us as both coaches [Mwase and Fazili] will not be part of the squad as such Bob [Mpinganjira] will take charge of the team,” he said.

Mwase described the development as unfortunate.

“During the first round of testing, we all tested negative on Wednesday, only to turn positive on Friday [yesterday] during the final tests as we were organising the final travel documents. I will not be making any changes to the squad because we already have a big squad. I wish them all the best of luck,” Mwase said.

Apart from Mwase, Fazili and Cholopi, the team will also be without captain Limbikani Mzava, vice-captain John Banda and Gerald Phiri Junior.

Mzava and Phiri Junior have injuries whereas Banda has been excused due to club commitments.

Football consultant Kevin Moyo said there was no need to panic.

“Mpinganjira has been part of the system and he knows the philosophy of the team. It is also an opportunity for other players to prove their worth,” Moyo said.

The Flames are using the match as part of preparations for World Cup qualifiers slated for September, October and November as well as Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals to be staged in Cameroon next year.

All things being equal, Malawi are also expected to take part in the Cosafa Cup in South Africa next month.

Here is the full squad:

Goalkeepers:

Ernest Kankhobwe, William Thole, Brighton Munthali

Defenders:

Charles Petro, Stanley Sanudi, Kaonga, Nickson Nyasulu, Paul Ndlovu, Denis Chembezi, Ngwenya,

Midfielders:

Chimwemwe Idana, Chikoti Chirwa, Chimango Kayira, Rafik Namwera, Yamikani Chester, Peter Banda, Kumwenda, Tawonga Chimodzi

Strikers:

Vincent Nyangulu, Gabadinho Mhango, Richard Mbulu, Khuda Muyaba

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