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Fam clarifies shunning Bingu National Stadium

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Alfred Gunda

Football Association of Malawi (Fam) has stated that it opted for Kamuzu Stadium as a home-ground for Malawi National Football Team matches following the government’s decision to turn Bingu National Stadium (BNS) into a Covid Isolation Centre early this year.

Fam General Secretary Alfred Gunda said the development hindered a certification exercise for the Chinese-build match venue, resulting in it not being considered for recent international matches.

The country’s football governing body has come under fire after Confederation of African Football (Caf) declared that Kamuzu Stadium is not fit to host international matches.

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The declaration means the Flames will play next month’s 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers on foreign soil.

Gunda said they failed to inspect BNS in February as it was a restricted area.

“BNS has always been one of the Caf homologated stadiums in the country since it was inaugurated in 2017 but the condition of the pitch this year has not been maintained to a playable condition. In late October 2020, Caf was expected to send an inspector to do the stadium certifications ahead of the re-start of the 2021 Afcon qualifiers and Fifa World Cup qualifiers.

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“The exercise was suspended due to Covid travel restrictions and, in February this year, Caf advised Fam to use local inspectors to do the exercise. This is why we only went with Kamuzu Stadium for the Uganda game,” Gunda said.

He said after the Uganda match, Caf wrote Fam again for BNS inspections and renovations for Kamuzu Stadium.

“By the deadline of 25th April, the playing surface at BNS was still not in playable state and that is why we are in this situation. Our way forward is that we will engage Caf to negotiate for an extended period to work on the BNS surface to make it playable in time for the next match.

“Playing outside the country is a non-starter and not an option for consideration at this stage. We are hoping that Caf will be flexible and understanding to the environment we operating in. We have already engaged government on a plan that will accelerate the process,” he said.

The stadium crisis has also affected other nations ahead of the opening round of the qualifiers.

These are Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Liberia, Namibia, Niger and Sierra Leone.

Since inauguration, BNS has hosted five Flames matches, the last one being against Morocco in a 2019 Afcon qualifier on March 29 2019, with Kamuzu Stadium hosting six games from 2017 up to March this year.

BNS had also hosted several high-profile local league and cup matches besides Caf Champions League, Confederation Cup and youth international matches.

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