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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: Covid-19 hit Malawi recall five reserve players for Zimbabwe date

10:09 EAT 11/01/2022
Malawi beef up Afcon squad.
The Flames have moved to beef up their depleted squad ahead of their second Group B fixture against the Warriors on Friday

Malawi have reinforced their squad with five players who were on the reserve list ahead of their second Group B Africa Cup of Nations fixture against Zimbabwe in Cameroon.

The Flames kicked off their campaign in the 33rd edition of the African continental finals with a 1-0 defeat against Guinea, with defender Issiaga Sylla notching the all-important goal for the Syli Nationale at Bafoussam Omnisport Stadium in Kouekong.

However, heading into the fixture against Guinea, Malawi missed the services of nine players and their coach Mario Marinica after they had tested positive for Covid-19.

The players who missed the opening fixture are Orlando Pirates striker Gabadinho Mhango, Richard Mbulu, defenders Mark Fodya, Peter Cholopi, Lawrence Chaziya, Stanley Sanudi, midfielders Chikoti Chirwa, Charles Petro, and Robin Ngalande.

While Fodya and Petro have already recovered from Covid-19 and linked up with the team in Cameroon, the remaining seven including their coach are still isolating and could likely miss the game against the Warriors on Friday.

“The Football Association of Malawi has called five players that were on the reserve list to join the team in Cameroon for the Afcon tournament,” confirmed a statement from Malawi Media Communication Team.

“The players are Brighton Munthali, Paul Ndlovu, Dan Chimbalanga, Gerald Phiri, and Stain Dave. The players will leave their respective bases on Monday and are expected to arrive in Cameroon on Tuesday.

“FAM has recalled the players as a measure to boost the Flames squad which has been hit by Covid-19 as six players tested positive in Cameroon while three others were delayed in Saudi Arabia as a result of being in isolation.

“The recall of the five players comes after Caf clarified on Sunday that participating teams will be allowed to use 28 players for matches at the tournament. The official number of players to be registered for the competition is 23 but Caf allowed participating teams to register five more players at their own cost.

“Initially Caf had indicated that only 23 players in the final squad will be eligible to take part in the competition while the other extra five, that were registered at the discretion of participating teams, will be on reserve and would only be replaced in case of serious injury.”

The statement continued: “Caf specified that the injury had to be certified through MRI Scan by the Caf Medical Committee and Covid-19 was not regarded as a serious injury.

“It is against this background that Malawi just like other participating countries like Zimbabwe and Ethiopia went to Cameroon with squads of 23 players.

“With increased cases of Covid-19 being experienced at the Afcon, the rule has been relaxed to ensure all 28 are available for selection hence the decision to beef the Flames squad with the reserve players.”

The Flames will come up against a wounded Warriors, who also suffered defeat in their opener after going down 1-0 against Senegal, with Liverpool winger Sadio Mane converting a stoppage-time penalty on Monday.

After taking on Zimbabwe, the Flames will wind up their group matches with a fixture against the Lions of Teranga on January 18.