Stand-in coach Bob Mpinganjira says despite missing coaches Meck Mwase and Lovemore Fazili, Malawi will make the most out of the international friendly against Tanzania’s Taifa Stars this afternoon.
Malawi take on the hosts at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam in an encounter both teams are utilising to prepare for 2022 Qatar World Cup group stage qualifiers.
But the Flames, who hoped to keep the momentum for the squad that qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations finals, have been affected by unprecedented challenges.
Five key players who featured in the last match against Uganda—
captain John CJ Banda, Francisco Madinga, Precious Sambani and midfielder Gerald Phiri Jnr—have not made the trip due to various reasons. captain Limbikani Mzava, vice-
Phiri Jnr, Mzava and Sambani have knocks while Banda is absent due to club commitments while Georgia-based Madinga has failed to travel due to Covid-19 restrictions.
As if that is not enough, the Flames were hit by another blow on Friday when head coach Mwase and his first assistant Fazili tested positive for Covid-19 alongside defender Peter Cholopi.
But Mpinganjira, who has stepped in Mwase and Fazili’s shoes, says the team is ready for the Taifa Stars.
He said: “Playing without the other team members is obviously a blow for the team. But the players know that when someone is not around, it’s their responsibility to take up the challenge.
“Good example is my situation. The head coach and first assistant are not available due to circumstances beyond our control. So, I have stepped up.
“It is a big challenge being in charge of the team for the first time, but this is the situation which I have to embrace.”
Players to step up and prove their worth include recalled attacking midfielder Tawonga Chimodzi and Scotland-based defender Kieran Ngwenya who has been called to duty for the first time.
Mpinganjira also has Moldova-based midfielder Peter Banda and team mate defender Charles Petro, in form Baroka FC striker Richard Mbulu and Orlando Pirates seasoned forward Gabadinho Mhango at his disposal.
Tanzania have not been spared from the setbacks ahead of the match.
Their captain Mbwana Samatta and Simon Msuva will also miss the game.
Taifa Stars team manager Nadir Haroub confirmed with Goal.com that Samatta who features for Fenerbahce in Turkey on loan from Aston Villa, and Msuva, who turns out for Wydad Casablanca of Morroco, will not be available for the fixture.
According to Haroub, Samatta has family issues to take care of while Msuva’s club is preparing for CAF Champions League semi-finals against Kaizer Chiefs.