With a double-edged sword, the ravaging novel coronavirus has hit the Malawi National Team, the Flames, in the 'nibbles' as two of the senior top coaching management, the head coach and his vice have both tested positive to the marauding global pandemic and will miss the test match against the Taifa Stars of Tanzania this Sunday.
Flames head coach Meck Mwase and his first deputy coach, Lovemore Fazili tested positive to Covid-19 ahead of the international friendly match against the northern neighbours scheduled to be played at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium at 15:00 hours CAT in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) have confirmed.
In a statement, FAM revealed that apart from Mwase and Fazili, defender Peter Cholopi has also tested positive for the pandemic and is not part of the squad.
"They are all asymptomatic and have since gone into isolation," reads in part the statement.
FAM president, Walter Nyamilandu said while the absence of the head coach and his assistant is a major setback, they have confidence in Bob Mpinganjira to lead the team to victory in Tanzania.
"We have faith in Bob that he will do a good job. Bob is a very capable manager and above all else, he is part of the team and therefore he knows and share the philosophy and style of play for the Malawi national team that has thus far made us to be a winning team.
"The three of them, Mwase, Fazili and Mpinganjira have a very good working relationship and both of them having played for the same national team together makes it more easy and better. They are one and they share a belief of common purpose," further reads the statement.
Following the development, it now means that Flames second deputy coach, Bob Mpinganjira will take charge of affairs in Flames engagement in tomorrow's international friendly encounter against Tanzania.
Mpinganjira and the Flames flew out to Dar es Salaam yesterday afternoon for the debacle.
In an interview with Nyasa Times Friday, the Flames gaffer, Meck Mwase, sounding calm and settled and a tad much better, and optimistic, said he has total belief in Mpinganjira.
"He is part of the team and I have no doubt that he will do a good job," he said.
On his part, Bob Mpinganjira, who is himself a football legend and plied his trade with the Flames as a striker told Nyasa Times that he is ready for the task in the absence of both his bosses.
"It is a very tough situation, but we will just have to go and do what we can do in the circumstances. We will do everything as if they are there. On an important note, we wish them a Godspeed recovery.
"The players are in good shape and we are looking forward to the match. The preparations have gone on well and the boys looked good in training and we hope that we will do well in Tanzania," Mpinganjira said.
The 22-member squad, which will be led by FAM vice-president Jabbar Alide, includes three uncapped players, namely Scotland-based left-back Kieran Ngwenya, Mighty Wanderers midfielder Vitumbiko Kumwenda and Nyasa Big Bullets new-signing defender Eric Kaonga.
Mpinganjira said the trio's performance has been impressive and could get their debuts tomorrow.
The Flames will be without five key players, namely captain Limbikani Mzava, vice-captain John Banda, Gerald Phiri Jnr, Robin Ngalande and Francisco Madinga.
Mzava, Phiri and Ngalande are nursing injuries while Banda and Madinga were excused due to club commitments.
Malawi are preparing for 2022 World Cup qualifiers and 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals.
The full squad that has travelled to face Tanzania is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Ernest Kakhobwe, William Thole and Brighton Munthali;
Defenders: Charles Petro, Stanley Sanudi, Kaonga, Nickson Nyasulu, Paul Ndlovu, Denis Chembezi and Kieran Ngwenya;
Midfielders: Chimwemwe Idana, Chikoti Chirwa, Chimango Kayira, Rafick Namwera, Tawonga Chimodzi, Yamikani Chester and Kumwenda;
Strikers: Vincent Nyangulu, Frank 'Gabadinho' Mhango, Richard Mbulu and Khuda Muyaba