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Flames downplay Zimbabwe’s woes

Football Association of Malawi (Fam) says it will not read much into reports that Flames’ opponents in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, Zimbabwe, are currently facing serious financial problems.

The two are set to begin their Afcon qualification campaign at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday.

According to www. newsday.co.zw, Zimbabwe did not regroup after Warriors coach Kalisto Pasuwa failed to release his squad for Saturday’s Group L qualifier because of lack of funds.

Pasuwa’s agent Gibson Mahachi told one of the leading newspapers in Zimbabwe, The Herald, that the coach had declined to name the squad until he sorts outstanding issues with Zifa which include unpaid dues.

“We are yet to agree with Zifa on what they owe the coach .They are already in default because they have not paid him a cent for the period he has worked. He is still to be offered a contract and yet all he has is a letter of appointment,” Mahachi was quoted as saying by The Herald.

“Already in terms of preparations we are very much behind, in fact we are nowhere because the game is on Saturday. My fear is that maybe the president (Zifa president Cuthbert Dube) is not being told the truth about the situation on the ground but we have a crisis,”

The development means Zimbabwe would only train for a few days ahead of the match.

Zimbabwe newspapers also reported that the Warriors are likely to miss the services of foreign-based players such as in-form striker Nyasha Mushwekwi, Danish-based Silas Songani and England-based McCauley Bonne due to late call-up.

However, majority of the South Africa-based players would be available for Afcon opener if the Warriors re-group.

Should the Warriors fail to fulfil the match, they will face a ban from the Confederation of African Football (Caf) in addition to another World Cup ban by Fifa.

The online publication stated that while it was understood that the squad was picked over the weekend and was supposed to have been released on Sunday.

Zifa communications manager, Xolisani Gwesela, said they were facing race against time.

“We acknowledge that we are running out of time, but our preparations have been hampered by the lack of financial resources,” he told the publication.”

Zifa has no money, no corporate sponsors or even government funding and has had to rely on the benevolence of its president Dube for funding.

While the Warriors were in a quandary, Malawi lost 2-1 to Egypt on Monday in an international friendly as they prepared for the crucial qualifier against the Warriors.

Ahmed Hassan Mekky scored the opener for Egypt in the 19th minute before Mohammed El Gabbas added the second two minutes after the break.

The Flames reduced the arrears through Atusaye Nyondo in the 64th minute.

The Flames coach Young Chimodzi has called up a mixture of youth and experience led by captain Joseph Kamwendo who plays for TP Mazembe in the Democratic Republic of Congo, former Russia-based striker Esau Kanyenda, Pretoria University forward Atusaye Nyondo and Caps United’s Gerald Phiri.

However, Fam general secretary, Sugzo Nyirenda, said they would not consider the reports and the Flames would continue training hard.

“The Flames will continue with the preparations to start the campaign with a bang. Their [Zimbabwe] financial woes have nothing to do with us,” he said.

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