In a twist of events, attacking midfielder Gerald Phiri Junior has come out of retirement and is expected to join the Flames squad in Cameroon today.
However, the Al Hilal attacker has made U-turn in time as the Flames were desperate for replacements after several key players tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday.
Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Competitions and Communications Director, Gomezgani Zakazaka confirmed that Phiri alongside four reserve players have been recalled.
Phiri left his base in Sudan for France, where he will connect to Douala to join team mates.
The other four players are defenders Paul Ndhlovu, Dan Chimbalanga, goalkeeper Brighton Munthali and striker Stain Davie.
However, Phiri’s manager, Paul Mitchel of Siyavuma Sports Group, was not readily available Monday.
Meanwhile, defender cum-midfielder Charles Petro and defender Mark Fodya, who remained in Saudi Arabia, were expected to join camp Monday after they were cleared to travel.
All the players could be available for the Flames second match against Zimbabwe on Friday.
Six Flames players, namely striker Gabadinho Mhango, Robin Ngalande, defenders Stanley Sanudi, Peter Cholopi, Lawrence Chaziya and midfielders Chikoti Chirwa and Robin Ngalande, tested positive for coronavirus.
The six players missed Monday’s match against Guinea alongside interim coach Marian Mario Marinica, goalkeepers’ trainer Swadick Sanudi and physiotherapist Chikondi Mandalasi.
However, Fam was keeping fingers crossed that the six players and three officials would test negative ahead of Friday’s match.
Football consultant Kevin Moyo said lessons were learnt in a hard way.
“Fam goofed on the number of squad members for the tournament. The best way was to ask for clarification from Caf on the issue before submitting the final list,” Moyo said.
This means the Flames will have a 28-member squad during the Afcon finals after submitting a squad of 23 players while several heads of member Associations travelled with the team.
It was discovered that the majority of the teams submitted a squad of 28 players after Caf increased the squad list for the 2021 edition in a move to boost the teams with extra playing personnel in the event of more than three Covid positive cases.
In a letter which Caf sent to all member associations, it indicated that the decision was made to allow participating nations to have a large squad.
However, Caf indicated that teams will be responsible for the cost of accommodating additional five players.
Registration of additional five players was optional.
Peter Fote is a Sports Journalist with huge experience in radio and Television reporting, production and presentation. He once worked with Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and is currently working for Times Media Group.