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Caf gives Bingu Stadium green light to host Flames

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Alfred Gunda

At long last! The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has approved Bingu National Stadium to host the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier between Malawi and Ethiopia on June 2.

The temporary approval comes just three days after Caf Stadium expert Ivan Lengwe Mumba conducted inspection at the giant facility.

However, the approval is specifically for this match as Caf has recommended that some areas of the facility need to be looked into before the stadium gets a permanent approval.

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“Please note that the approved stadium will be set as a venue to host the match Group D -Malawi vs Ethiopia related to the group stage qualifiers of Africa Cup Nations Côte d’Ivoire 2023 Match Day,” reads a letter from Caf Developmental Director Raul Chipenda to Football Association of Malawi.

Areas that need serious attention include the pitch, dressing room, benches and media rooms.

“Overall, pitch condition has improved but not yet at desired level. Continue with maintenance and preservation of the field of play area,” reads the communication.

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“Explore the possibility of installing new international standard, modern and comfortable teams and officials benches.”

Caf has also told Fam to ensure that the stadium is equipped with modern electronic access controls and automated counting system delivering real-time spectators’ attendance per sector.

Additionally, modern turnstiles with automatic counting apparatus need to be installed. There is also need for the stadium management to improve sanitation of the facility including general cleaning, repairing broken taps in sinks and installation of missing water taps in sinks.

Fam General Secretary Alfred Gunda said it was a timely relief as it will help manage the cost.

“We have come a long way to achieve this, and we must thank the Malawi Government and the Fam leadership for the effort and resources that has enabled us get this far,” Gunda said.

“We will not relax but go back on the ground to work on the shortfalls so that we should get a permanent approval.”

The stadium failed to pass Caf test last year for the World Cup qualifiers, which forced the Flames to play their matches at Orlando Stadium in South Africa.

In reaction to the development, Minister of Youth and Sports, Richard Chimwendo Banda was excited.

“Good news to all football fans, the Afcon games will be played at Bingu Stadium. Let me thank Fam President Walter Nyamilandu and the ministry for a good job. Malawians deserve to watch the games at home,” Chimwendo Banda said in an interview.

Flames Coach Marian Mario Marinica said playing the matches at home was a morale booster.

The Flames are expected to start preparations this morning in Blantyre.

After the match against Ethiopia, the Flames will travel to Guinea few days later.

Malawi will also face Egypt back-to-back home and away in September before meeting Ethiopia and Guinea away and home in March next year.

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