The Flames friendly match against Mali, which was scheduled for yesterday, has been postponed due to the late arrival of Mali in Saudi Arabia.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) competitions and communications director Gomezgani Zakazaka said Mali delayed their departure due to Covid-19 setbacks and arrived in Jeddah on Wednesday night.
He said: “With Covid-19 protocols, it means they will have to isolate for a day which is Thursday as they wait for the Covid-19 results meaning the match cannot be played as scheduled.
“We are working with organisers to reschedule the match to Friday December 31 [today]. But we will confirm once all parties are aligned. However, the match against Comoros on January 4 will proceed as arranged as Comoros are already here.”
On his part, Marinica described the development as a big blow to his final squad selection process as he will have to select some players before seeing them in a game situation.
“It is a setback because we have a CAF deadline of Thursday to submit our final squad. This doesn’t give me a good chance to identify all the fringe players to see who actually must be and not be in the final 23-man squad,” he said.
Meanwhile, South Africa-based striker Gabadinho Mhango joined the squad on Tuesday night while Charles Petro left Malawi on Wednesday afternoon and will arrive in Saudi Arabia on Thursday morning. Dan Chimbalanga and Charles Thom failed to travel due to visa complications.
Meanwhile, striker Schumacher Kuwali has been ruled out after suffering a thigh injury during training in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
According to www.Fam.mw the striker tore his right thigh muscles on Monday afternoon and the Flames team doctor Gift Ligomeka was quoted as having said he would be out for a minimum of three weeks.
The player is expected to return to Malawi any day to continue with his rehabilitation.
Marinica was also quoted by Fam website as having described Kuwali’s injury as a big blow to the Flames’ Afcon preparations.
He said: “It is not looking good with Schumacher. He has injured his thigh. Unfortunately, he was rated highly in my plans. He seems to be a versatile player and a very good listener who was putting into practice all our strategies.
“He was with us for a long time and was one of the players who was adapting well to the new philosophy. We have to move on without him and find new solutions. We wish him all the best.”