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Kamuzu Stadium certified fit

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Domestic football fans can breathe a sigh of relief after world football mother body, Fifa, certified Kamuzu Stadium fit to host Flames’ forthcoming 2018 World Cup qualifying games.

Fam general secretary, Sugzo Nyirenda, confirmed the development yesterday during a press briefing on a wide range of football issues at Chiwembe Technical Centre, Blantyre.

Fear had gripped the fans when it emerged that the Flames risked being forced to play their home games in another country because the stadium, especially the expired artificial turf, were not fit for international games.

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Fifa’s Zambian envoy, Joseph Nkole, inspected the stadium last week having also conducted similar inspections in Gabon and Angola and sent his report on Monday indicating that the Flames can play Tanzania on October 11, 2015 at the stadium.

Flames travel to Tanzania on October 7 in the first leg of the preliminary round with the overall winner set to face Algeria in November in the first round.

“We did everything necessary to ensure that Kamuzu Stadium should pass. We knew our colleagues [stadium management] do not have equipment and we had to carry all from here,” Nyirenda explained.

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“It was not easy as Fifa was about to make a decision to take Malawi games outside the country. It was so tense on Thursday when waited for a word from Fifa. Nkole left on Saturday and Fifa eventually sent in the approval.”

As a long-term measure, Fam expects government to fully renovate the stadium with the Flames other games set to relocate to the new Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.

To this effect, Nyirenda said having failed to satisfy Fifa on the lack of flood-lights at the stadium, the return leg against the Taifa Stars will be played earlier at 2:00 pm on October 11 instead of the usual 3:30 pm.

“The game is crucial and in the event that it ends in a draw, it will go into 30 minutes of extra-time and should it fail to produce a winner, post-match penalties,” Nyirenda explained.

The lifespan of the astro-turf, which cost Fifa about K150 million during its installation eight years ago, expired.

“We have already written Fifa to send their officials to inspect the new stadium in Lilongwe at least by December, otherwise the Flames will be using the new stadium during their home games. We also hope government will not completely abandon the Kamuzu stadium so that football fans in Blantyre are not starved of action,” Nyirenda added.

Flames’ local players regroup at Chiwembe on Monday and the Flames hope to stop over either in Uganda or Kenya for a warm-up before proceeding to Tanzania on October 4, 2015.

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