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Fam panics

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Football Association of Malawi (Fam) faces a race against time to rehabilitate the Kamuzu Stadium turf as Fifa officials are expected to jet in this week for a final inspection of the facility to determine if it can host World Cup qualifiers.

Fifa officials already did a preliminary inspection of the stadium’s turf last month and reported that the artificial pitch was past its eight-year lifespan.

The crew also recommended that the turf should either be removed or rehabilitated immediately for the pitch to host games.

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This time, Fifa will make a general inspection of the facility with full knowledge that it already advised Fam to start renovating the pitch.

If the stadium fails the latest inspection, Malawi will have to find a new venue to host Tanzania in 2018 World Cup preliminary round play-off second leg in October.

Fam general secretary, Suzgo Nyirenda, confirmed that Fifa officials would arrive any day.

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“I am expecting two officials; one from Tunisia and the other one from Zambia to inspect the stadium this week,” Nyirenda said, adding that Fam has since started the renonations.

“We have decided to take all the equipment and the raw materials like rubber granules that was left during Chiwembe turf construction to renovate the Kamuzu Stadium turf.”

Fam also faces a challenge of making sure the stadium’s floodlights are functional.

“The second leg of the game against Tanzania is tricky. It’s like a final. What if the two legs end in a draw and it has to go into extra-time and later penalties? It will mean we will need floodlights and Fifa is aware that we don’t have functional floodlights,” Nyirenda added.

The GS also ruled out playing at Civo Stadium which Fifa already condemned several years ago.

“Our best shot is to make sure that the Kamuzu Stadium turf is in good condition. As for the floodlights, we will have to tell Fifa we will kick-off early so that the game ends before darkness falls. Otherwise, Fifa will not hesitate to take the game to our neighbouring country,” Nyirenda said.

Although government has repeatedly said it would renovate the stadium which also has some terraces cordoned-off due to safety reasons, there is nothing yet happening at the stadium except the Fam-initiated stadium turf renovations.

Stadium supervisor, Charles Mhango, confirmed that work had started on the renovations.

“Fam officials were here. We have started some of the work. We will start with the most crucial areas like the penalty spot, and the lining which faded,” Mhango said yesterday.

The turf will also need new rubber granules to replace old ones that have dried out, hence cause injuries to players.

The artificial turf also needs thorough combing using a special tractor that Fifa provided for the Chiwembe turf after the Kamuzu Stadium one was vandalised

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