Football Association of Malawi (Fam) is continuing with efforts to make Nigerian striker Babatunde Adepoju eligible to play for the Malawi National Football Team.
The Flames will face Egypt in back-to-back home-and-away 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon ) qualifying fixtures in September and are hoping to acquire Babatunde’s services in time for the matches.
Fam President Walter Nyamilandu said the Flames still require the services of the lanky West African.
“We have renewed our drive to get him on board after failing to secure his services for the Afcon finals in Cameroon. We are indeed pushing for Babatunde’s papers so that he can play for the Flames,” Nyamilandu said.
Asked why Fam is pushing for Babatunde when the country has equally good strikers, Nyamilandu said Babatunde is in a class of his own.
“Babatunde is scoring goals freely. The others are yet to prove themselves. The national team is for tried and tested players. There is no room for error,” Nyamilandu said.
Department of Immigration and Citizen Services regulations require any person applying for Malawi citizenship from Commonwealth countries to satisfy certain conditions for the application to be processed and subsequently approved by the approving authority.
The conditions include one being an ordinary resident in the country for five years with adequate knowledge of a prescribed vernacular language or English.
In addition, the person should be of good character.
Once approved, the applicant is required to pay $20,000 (about K22 million). Nyamilandu said the association is waiting for advice on the matter.
“We need him at all costs.
This is in the national interest. We will wait to be advised of the requirements and take it from there. We are supporting the application,” he said.
Fam can justify pushing for Babatunde’s citizenship as the majority of Flames strikers have struggled to find the back of the net.
In recent times, the Flames have over-relied on Amazulu FC striker Gabadinho Mhango, who is the only player to have scored for Malawi in the past six matches.
Mhango scored three goals at the Afcon finals and a brace against Ethiopia in the Afcon qualifiers.
Mhango’s strike partner Khuda Muyaba last scored in the 2-1 loss to Ivory Coast in the World Cup qualifiers.
Another forward Richard Mbulu last found the net in September last year but it seems he is out of coach Mario Marinica’s picture.
Babatunde is among the top scorers in the Super League with nine goals this season.
Last season, he won the Airtel Top 8 Golden Boot award after scoring eight goals in three matches.
Babatunde started his Malawian career with defunct Masters Security, a team he helped win the 2018 Carlsberg Cup.
He later joined Mighty Mukuru Wanderers in 2019 before signing for Bullets.