The Flames have received a clean bill of health as all 28 players have tested negative of CoVID-19 and are available for selection for their second match of the Africa Cup of Nations encounter against Zimbabwe on Friday.
The Flames players and officials underwent a CoVID-19 PCR test on Wednesday afternoon 48 hours before the team’s second group B match as per Confederation of African Football (CAF) 2021 AFCON pre-match protocols.
A media release posted on Fam.mw says head of technical panel, Mario Marinica is still positive while goalkeeper trainer Swadick Sanudi and physiotherapist Chikondi Mandalasi have been cleared.
Thus Marinica will remain in isolation under intense supervision of the team’s CoVID-19 medical team led by Dr. Precious Kadzamira.
Head of delegation Tiya Somba Banda told Fam.mw that this was sweet news and thanked the medical team for their effort and dedication in taking care of the team.
“We now have a full squad and look forward to Thursday’s training which will bring together the whole squad for the first time,” he is quoted as saying.
“It’s a timely boost so that we have all the players available for the Zimbabwe game which is a must-win for us to remain in contention for a place in the knock-out stages.”
The Flames had 15 players only for their first game against Guinea as six players — defenders Peter Cholopi, Lawrence Chaziya, Stanley Sanudi; midfielders Chikoti Chirwa, Robin Ngalande and striker Gabadinho Mhango tested positive for COVID-19 while two others were still in Saudi Arabia.
FAM has also brought in five players — Brighton Munthali, Paul Ndlobvu, Dan Chimbalanga, Gerald Phiri and Stain Dave — who were on reserve list to beef up the squad.
The CoVID-19 positivity played a huge part to the Flames inefficiency to utilize their countless chances they had which could earned them a deserving win.
They took the game with verve and vitality; caught their experienced opponents off guard with their offensive play; forced the best out of the Guinean goalkeeper that even pre-match, halftime and full time SuperSport analysts, former internationals — South African Andre Arendse and Ghanaian Asamoah Gyan — doffed their hearts off the Flames for their positive offensive performance.
Coach Meck Mwase had to make do of the available players as he only had four substitutes — two goalkeepers William Thole and Charles Thom and two in-field players Richard Mbulu and Zobran Kalima.
He started with Ernest Kakhobwe in goals; defenders Dennis Chembezi, Limbikani Mzava, Gomezgani Chirwa; midfielders Francisco Madinga, John Banda, Chimwemwe Idana, Micium Mhone, strikers Peter Banda, Khusa Muyaba and Yamikani Chester — in a 3-4-1-2 formation.
Midfielder Yamikani Chester, who missed two early golden one-on-one chances against Guinea goalkeeper Aly Keita, was used as a makeshift striker.
Coach Mwase only had four subs — two goalkeepers William Thole and Charles Thom and two in-field players Richard Mbulu and Zobran Kalima while Mbulu was only cleared a few days before from Saudi Arabia, where he had been detained also because of testing positive of CoVID-19.
Mbulu only arrived in Cameroun on Sunday, never trained with the team and thus had to first warm the bench to analyze the game together with the technical panel.
Madinga, Gomezgani, Micium and Idana are not regular starters and were only considered as first team because of the changes due to CoVID-19.
But all in all, they played as one unit; always on the offensive; created some good chances but wasted them at the last touch.
They didn’t waste time at the back; played few back passes as they usually do and cleared their lines whenever caught on counter attacks by the experienced west Africans. The chances came because the approach was to move the ball upfront quickly but with precision.
In the system that Mwase used John Banda and Chimwemwe Idana played as holding midfielders while Peter Banda played in central midfield role.
The analysis by Fam.mw, whose reporter is in Cameroun — probably FAM’s competitions & communications director (a renowned sports journalist) — says despite improvising, Malawi had an upper hand more especially in the midfield where they dominated possession and turnovers.
The Flames consequently created more scoring opportunities than Guinea that saw Mhone’s seventh minute long range shot forcing Guinea goalkeeper to stretch and force a corner.
Malawi’s closest chance was wasted by Yamikani Chester, who after intercepting a pass from Guinea defender and left with just goalkeeper Aly Keita to beat, shot straight into the palms of the keeper.
In 22nd minute Francisco Madinga won a free-kick on the edge of the box but he too wasted the opportunity.
All the while, experienced Guinea kept being wary and their captain Naby Keita almost opened the score sheet in the 25th when his header from a corner hit the post.
The Syli National then got their goal with their first shot on target when Issiaga Sylla right footed from the left side of the six yard box after some good work from José Kanté.
Malawi continued pressing and captain Limbikani Mzava saw his set piece also parried away for a corner after a foul on Khuda.
Peter Banda was also denied after his well curved shot aimed at the left corner was saved for a corner by the keeper.
Just before the end of the first half Guinea almost got a second goal but thanks to goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe’s double save of Aguibou Camara shot and rebound.
The second half was the same story as Flames searched for an equaliser while Guinea did more defending.
When Mwase introduced Mbulu to replace injured Chester, the Baroka FC striker almost equalised but his shot from outside the box was blocked after being set up by Muyaba.
Madinga also saw his shot saved by Guinea goalkeeper from a Peter Banda superb pass.
Mwase introduced Zebron Kalima for Peter Banda but did little to change the complexion of the game as the Flames twice survived a scared later when Mvaza blocked Mohamed Bayo and Mamadou Lamarana Diallo attempt in the box.
Coach Meck Mwase told Fam.mw that he blamed the loss on lack of confidence in goal after creating good scoring opportunities but was quick to say the Flames matched the Syli National pound for pound in the absence of three-quarters of the senior players.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :