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Fam in limbo over Flames’ participation in Cosafa

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Walter Nyamilandu

Football Association of Malawi (Fam) is keeping its fingers crossed to see if this year’s Cosafa Senior Men’s Cup will be staged next month in Durban, South Africa.

In the face of Covid-19 pandemic, The South African government has eased up on travel restrictions by indicating that flights could resume on October 1, a day before the start of the tournament that will end on October 17.

Surprisingly the hosts are also arranging friendly games scheduled for the same period.

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In her brief Friday, South Africa, Minister of Cooperate Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma said sports spectators are still not allowed as well as international sport.

The developments threaten to affect the hosting of the cup.

Fam president Walter Nyamilandu said hosting of the Cosafa tournament at this stage depends on the lock down imposed by South Africa.

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“It remains uncertain that flights to SA will open soon and whether the government will allow international competitions in light of the restrictions on internal travel and social gatherings. So we are in limbo,” he said.

The Fifa Council member said Fam will begin Cosafa preparations in readiness for 2021 Africa Cup of Nations back-to-back qualifiers against Burkina Faso slated for November.

“We are still going to prepare for Cosafa which is scheduled for October, knowing very well that we need to be ready for Africa Cup of Nations in November. Our priority is the Africa Cup of Nations hence the need for long camping in order for the players to gain match fitness,” he said.

Cosafa Vice General Secretary Suzgo Nyirenda said they will confirm all details regarding this year’s tournament mid next week.

“I think everything will be clear by next week because that’s when we expect to receive all the confirmations. As of now, the competition is on unless otherwise advised,” he said.

Nyirenda, who is also former Fam General Secretary, could not reveal how many countries had confirmed their participation.

“I cannot say much because most of the confirmations are received by the Administration Officer. By next week, we should have a clear indication in terms of participating teams,” he said.

Interestingly, Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 gave nod to Flames’ return to international assignments on Thursday after suspending sporting activities on March 20 to curb the then threat of the pandemic.

During last year’s tournament, Flames’ mission to win the Cosafa Plate for the second time ended in vain after losing to the hosts, South Africa, 5-4 on post-match penalties at Moses Mabhidha Stadium.

It was a harsh defeat for the Flames who had a glimmer of hope following two disastrous and fruitless campaigns at the regional showpiece in 2017 and 2018.

Under the guidance of Meck Mwase, the Flames beat Namibia 2-1 and drew with Mozambique one-all. In the quarterfinals, Zambia beat Malawi 4-2 on post-match penalties. In Cosafa Plate, Malawi beat Comoros 2-1 before losing to South Africa.

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