Malawi National Football Team will be without top striker Gabadihno Mhango for Monday’s crucial 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Uganda at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
Mhango will not be part of the Flames lineup for the must-win match as he is suspended.
The Orlando Pirates forward received a yellow card in the 1-0 victory over South Sudan in Khartoum, Sudan, on Wednesday.
The development will force Flames coach Meck Mwase to make changes to his striking department.
Mwase admitted that going into the Uganda game without Mhango is a big blow.
“Gaba is one of us; so, we will miss him. But we are not panicking. This could be an opportunity for other players to prove their worth, he said”.
Malawi only need to collect maximum points against Uganda to join Burkina Faso in qualifying from Group B.
In Mhango’s absence, Mwase will likely put faith in Baroka FC striker Richard Mbulu and Polokwane City forward Khuda Muyaba.
Mhango has netted one goal in the campaign, against South Sudan at Kamuzu Stadium in 2019.
Mozambique-based forward Schumacher Kuwali is also doubtful for the match but defender Precious Sambani is fit after being withdrawn towards the end of the Wednesday match.
The Flames completed a double over South Sudan, thanks to Gerald Phiri Junior’s goal.
Sports analyst George Kaudza-Masina expressed optimism that the Flames would qualify for the continental finals.
“We can beat Uganda. We just need to prepare well. Let us not give the players too much pressure. I think playing behind closed doors will also be an advantage to the players,” he said.
Burkina Faso secured a ticket to Cameroon after a goal-less draw with the Cranes on Wednesday.
Burkina Faso, who host South Sudan in their last match, have nine points from five matches followed by Uganda on eight points whereas the Flames have seven points on third position.
Malawi last qualified for the Afcon finals in 2010 under the tutelage of Kinnah Phiri.
Meanwhile, the Flames arrived in Blantyre yesterday afternoon. Sports Minister Ulemu Msungama led Malawians in welcoming the team.
Msungama assured the team of the government’s support to ensure that it does well against Uganda on Monday.
The team went straight into camp at Golden Peacock Hotel and had a loosening up later in the afternoon at Kamuzu Stadium.