State President Lazarus Chakwera has urged Malawi National Football Team players to aim higher and fight for honours on the continent.
Chakwera made the remarks during an interface with Football Association of Malawi (Fam) officials, Flames players and technical staff at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe Thursday to thank them for qualifying for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals to be staged in Cameroon.
The President said the team has the potential to scale greater heights if players were more ambitious.
“We should, indeed, be celebrating qualification for the Afcon finals but we must also aim higher. We need to prepare well for the tournament for us to do well. We have the potential to make it big and even qualify for the World Cup. Time has come for all Malawians to put their trust in the team,” he said.
Chakwera also appealed to the private sector to invest in the team.
During the event, Fam presented a portrait of the Flames’ starting line-up against Uganda to Chakwera.
Fam President Walter Nyamilandu said meeting the Head of State was a rare occasion.
“The players feel respected and dignified. This is a special occasion for the players and they will be motivated,” Nyamilandu said.
Flames vice-captain John Banda appealed to Chakwera to consider improving the players’ welfare.
“We, as players, need motivation if we are to continue performing. It would also be great if the government constructed houses or allocated plots to the players and technical staff,” Banda said.
Youth and Sports Minister Ulemu Msungama, Malawi National Council of Sports Chairperson Sunduzwayo Madise and Flames Coach Meck Mwase were also in attendance.
This is the third time Malawi has qualified for the Afcon finals. They first made it in 1984 under late Henry Moyo before achieving a similar feat in 2010.
The Cameroon qualification came through striker Richard Mbulu’s goal in the first half.
The Flames qualified with 10 points from six matches whereas Burkina Faso finished as group winners with 12 points from the same number of matches.