Flames hit by Covid hours before Afcon opener

Malawi National Football Team has been hit with a massive blow after six players and three officials tested positive for Covid-19 just a day before their Group B opening match against Guinea at the delayed 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Cameroon.

According to a statement released by Football Association of Malawi on Sunday, as per CAF Afcon pre-match protocols, the Flames players and officials underwent a Covid-19 PCR test on Saturday afternoon, 48 hours before facing Guinea in which Lawrence Chaziya, Stainley Sanudi, Chikoti Chirwa, Peter Cholopi, Gabadinho Mhango and Robin Ngalande tested positive.

“The Football Association of Malawi would like to announce that as per the CAF AFCON pre-match protocols the Flames players and officials underwent a Covid19 PCR test on Saturday afternoon, 48 hours before the team’s opening match against Guinea on Monday.

“Unfortunately, six players and three technical staff tested positive and will miss the Monday match. The players are defenders Peter Cholopi, Lawrence Chaziya, Stanley Sanudi; midfielders Chikoti Chirwa and Robin Ngalande and striker Gabadinho Mhango,” reads part of the statement.

According to FAM, the team will also be without Head of Technical Marian Mario Marinica, Goalkeeper’s trainer Swadick Sanudi and Physiotherapist Chikondi Mandalasi.

“The nine are in isolation under the supervision of the team’s Covid-19 medical team led by Dr. Precious Kadzamira,” continued the statement.

Head of delegation Tiya Somba Banda said: “It’s a difficult situation that we will not have the players and some of the technical staff for the opening match. Our medical team is managing the situation to ensure that the players and the officials recover as soon as possible.

“However, the good news is that Richard Mbulu will join us on Sunday and will be available for selection and the technical panel has already put a plan accordingly for the Guinea match.

“The Flames will have another test on Wednesday January 12, 2022 and we hope by then the nine would have recovered and cleared for the next match against Zimbabwe.”

Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia Mark Fodya has tested negative for COVID-19 while Charles Petro is still positive. Fodya is expected to leave Saudi Arabia on Sunday evening and join the team in Cameroon on Monday afternoon.

Petro will remain in isolation in Jeddah and have another test on Monday.

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