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Malawi Plunged Into Covid Chaos Just Hours Ahead Of AFCON Opener

Malawi’s preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations have been thrown into chaos after nine members of their group – including six players – tested positive for Covid-19.

The Flames will take on Guinea in a Group B opener at the Boufassam Omnisport Stadium in Cameroon on Monday.

In a statement, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) revealed that the players are defenders Peter Cholopi, Lawrence Chaziya, Stanley Sanudi; midfielders Chikoti Chirwa and Robin Ngalande and striker Gabadinho Mhango.

Flames head coach Panel Mario Marinica has also tested positive same for Goalkeeper Trainer Swadick Sanudi and Physiotherapist Chikondi Mandalasi.

Malawi’s head of delegation Tiya Somba Banda said the nine have been placed in isolation under the supervision of the team’s Covid-19 medical team.

“It’s a difficult situation that we will not have the players and some of the technical staff for the opening match,” Banda said.

However, the Flames will be welcoming striker Richard Mbulu, who was among three other players tested positive for Covid-19 while in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s training camp.

“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,” Banda added.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“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.”[/perfectpullquote]

Meanwhile,  defender Mark Fodya who was ruled out of the team’s Africa Cup of Nations opening fixture against Guinea has tested negative for Covid-19.

“Fodya is expected to leave Saudi Arabia on Sunday evening and join the team in Cameroon on Monday afternoon, “ Banda concluded.

The African Cup starts on Sunday and Malawi has little time before its first game of the tournament against Guinea on Monday.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has already issued guidelines stating that countries suffering Covid-19 outbreaks will have to play their matches if they have only 11 players available.

Other teams that have reported positive Covid-19 cases, including tournament favourites Algeria,Senegal, Ivory Coast and Morocco.

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