Malawi National Football Team, the Flames, suffered a setback after defender Gomezgani Chirwa was sent back having lost his passport at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa on Saturday.
Football Association of Malawi (Fam) confirmed on its website Sunday that Chirwa is expected to go back to South Africa Tuesday.
“Chirwa is expected to join the team once he sorts out his passport issues,” reported Fam website.
This means Chirwa is doubtful for Flames opening match at the 2022 Hollywoodbets Cosafa Cup against Lesotho at King Zwelithini Stadium on Wednesday.
Fam did not give more details on what led to the loss of passport.
A well-placed source said Chirwa had his passport as he was boarding the plane to South Africa.
The source said upon arrival at OR Tambo International Airport, the Nyasa Big Bullets defender discovered that his passport was missing.
Reports indicate that cabin crew helped him search the passport to no avail.
Following the incident, the defender was not allowed entry into South Africa but the rest of the teammates proceeded to Durban and arrived on Saturday evening.
The Flames are being accommodated at Garden Court Southern Beach.
Efforts to talk to the player and leader of delegation Othaniel Hara, who is also Fam second vice president, proved futile Sunday.
Sports analyst George Kaudza Masina described the incident as unfortunate.
“This is very bad for the player and the country. Gomezgani is a very good player and this could have been a good opportunity for him to showcase his skills. I hope the matter will be resolved as soon as possible so that he joins the team,” Kaudza-Masina said.
Meanwhile, three Mighty Wanderers players namely Stanley Sanudi, Chiukepo Msowoya and Yamikani Chester were expected to join the team last night.
The three remained behind as they were involved in Wanderers 3-0 win over Karonga United in a TNM Super League match on Saturday.
Mozambique-based midfielder John Banda and Simba SC winger Peter Banda are expected to join the team today.
The Flames will face eSwatini in the second match on Friday at the same venue before meeting Mauritius at Princess Magogo Stadium on Sunday.
The overall winner will advance to the quarterfinals and will face Senegal.
The Flames last reached the quarterfinals in 2019 but were knocked out following a 4-2 loss on post-match penalties to Zambia after 2-2 in regulation time.
During the 2021 edition, the Flames were eliminated in the group stages after two losses and two draws in four matches.
Since the Cosafa Cup was introduced in 1997, the Flames have never won it despite reaching the finals twice in 2002 and 2003.