Malawi National Football Team has suffered a setback as defender Precious Sambani has been ruled out of the TotalEnergies Africa Nations Championship (Chan) second round return leg against Mozambique due to a knee injury.
The two teams meet at Zimpeto Stadium in Maputo on Sunday.
Attacking midfielder Yamikani Chester is facing race against time to be fit for the clash.
Chester scored Flames’ equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Bingu National Stadium on Sunday but was stretched off towards the end of the match due to a knock.
Sambani sustained his injury on Sunday while playing for his club, Bullets.
Ironically, during the Flames match, Sambani started on the bench before replacing versatile Gomezgani Chirwa who was preferred as a left back.
Marinica confirmed Tuesday that the left back is completely out but was optimistic that Chester would pass late fitness test.
“Sambani played for Nyasa Big Bullets but apparently had a knee injury. For Chester is currently under treatment,” Marinica said.
The Flames made life difficult for themselves, having wasted several scoring opportunities in the first leg. Malawi needs a draw of more than two goals or a win to qualify for the finals to be staged in Algeria next year.
In his post-match interview, Marinica admitted his charges were not clinical in front of the goal.
“We will go to Mozambique to win the match and we have to make sure we score goals. We have realistic chances,’’ the Romanian said.
The Flames should expect a tough match in Maputo as the Mambas showed they are a great team with great organisation.
Former Flames defender Moses Chavula said the team should exercise caution in the second leg.
“It is an open game and Malawi can beat Mozambique away. We just need to have a good game-plan,’’ Chavula said.
Since the competition started in 2008, the Flames have never qualified for the Chan finals.
In 2019, Malawi exited the competition on away goal rule after 1-1 draw on aggregate.