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Flames allowed international games

Hope for fans return to stadiums

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John Phuka

The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 has given consent to Malawi national football team, the Flames, to resume preparations ahead of upcoming tournaments.

The football fraternity has been waiting for the resumption of the game since March 20 when sporting events were banned to curb the threats of Covid-19.

Football diehards breathed a sigh of relief when co-chairperson of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 John Phuka told journalists in Lilongwe Thursday that the Flames will be allowed to start training.

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“After opening schools and airports, we are managing very well. In the meantime, the committee has commissioned to allow the national team to start training so that it participates in international tournaments and obligations,” Phuka told journalists in Lilongwe Thursday.

“We have also looked at the elite Super League, we will give a very clear position on the dates, for example Super League will start next week, Thursday latest. In the meantime, we received comprehensive guidelines especially that our aspirations for sports include spectators we don’t want the spectators to be completely avoided from the stands, we want to see is there a way we can include spectators from the outset but they have to be in numbers to prevent the spread of coronavirus. By next week, we receive furthers suggestions and will be more specific on the date Super League will start.”

The Flames are expected to take part in this year’s Cosafa Senior Men’s Tournament slated for October 2-17 in Durban, South Africa before facing Burkina Faso in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers in November. However, the future of Cosafa Cup remains uncertain this year as some member associations are still on lockdown due to Covid-19.

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Football Association of Malawi (Fam) president Walter Nyamilandu was excited with the development yesterday.

“It’s a breakthrough in our roadmap to restart football. It is a step in the right direction having been on suspension for a longtime. This will definitely lead to a gradual process of the opening up of training and competitive football,” he said.

The association has already put strict conditions for Flames camping including disinfecting Mpira Village and testing for the players. In addition, Flames players are also not allowed to go to public places while in camp due to the pandemic.

Majority of the Flames players underwent Covid-19 test in Lilongwe and Blantyre this week ahead of the preparations. Flames coach Meck Mwase was not readily available yesterday.

In the Afcon qualifiers, the Flames are third in Group B with three points having defeated South Sudan 1-0 whereas Uganda and Burkina Faso are joint leaders with four points each from two rounds of matches.

Sports was suspended in March this year as a measure to control the spread of the pandemic. As of yesterday, the country had registered seven new cases, 236 recoveries and one death. In total, the country has 1532 active cases, 4000 recoveries and 179 deaths.

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