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Malawi has time to improve stadia as qualifiers are postponed

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Alfred Gunda

Confederation of African Footballs’ (Caf)’s Emergency Committee in consultation with world football governing body Fifa, has postponed World Cup qualifiers for Africa, giving time to 10 countries whose match venues were banned from hosting international matches.

The qualifiers were due to be played next month with 10 national teams, including Malawi, running the risk of playing home matches in other countries.

The Flames were due to face Cameroon away between June 5 and 8 before hosting Mozambique between June 11 and 14.

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However, Caf released a press statement Thursday stating that the qualifiers had been rescheduled to the existing windows of September, October and November 2021 and March 2022.

“Caf is re-assessing its protocols and processes to enhance the implementation of Covid-related protocols, including specifically focusing on pre-match testing which had been a source of some challenges in previous windows,” the statement reads.

The postponement is a timely relief for Football Association of Malawi (Fam) whose preferred home-ground Kamuzu Stadium was declared unfit by Caf.

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This compelled Fam to start exploring other options including returning to Bingu National Stadium (BNS) and playing matches in Zambia.

General secretary for the country’s football governing body Alfred Gunda said they will continue working hand-in-would with the Ministry of Youth and Sports as owners of BNS and Kamuzu Stadium.

“The development comes at a critical time of planning. As Fam, we have noted that Caf is evaluating continental as well as global trends of the behaviour of coronavirus.

“This to us is just a deferment which gives us an opportunity to continue preparing technically as well as for stadia work to be done to reach desired levels of improvement,” Gunda said.

Malawi are in Group B of the qualifiers alongside Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Mozambique.

Flames coach Meck Mwase said he believes that everything happens for a reason.

“It might be for a good or bad reason but we accept the situation on the ground. We also hope that, by September, all our players will be in good shape and fit for the qualifiers,” Mwase said.

The Flames were due to host Ivory Coast in September before travelling to the West African nation between September 5 and 8.

Malawi would then host Cameroon between October 6 and 9.

Malawi were scheduled to wrap up the World Cup qualifiers with an away fixture against Mozambique between October 10 and 12.

The postponement means the qualifiers will be completed in March next year.

Football analyst George Kaudza-Masina said the development was a blessing in disguise.

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