Fifteen Malawian referees can afford a smile after world football governing body Fifa approved their names for the 2023 international referees’ panel.
The names are included on a list that Fifa released Wednesday.
The list does not have any new face among the country’s six centre referees.
The referees are Godfrey Nkhakananga, Gift Chicco, Mercy Kayira, Easter Zimba, Eness Gumbo and Newton Nyirenda.
The assistants who have earned Fifa’s approval are Bernadettar Kwimbira, Clemence Kanduku, Eliza Sichinga, Pondamali Tembo, Happiness Mbandambanda, Edward Kambatuwa, Joseph Nyauti, Jonizio Luwizi and Evance Msonda.
Tembo happens to be the only new name among the assistants with the rest of the match officials having been retained from the 2022 group. The newcomer has replaced Innocent Kaundula.
According to Football Association of Malawi’s (Fam) website, Malawi will have two officials on Fifa’s Beach Soccer Referees list following the acceptance of Mathews Ngwira and Rose Zimba.
Fam Referees Development Officer Fredrick Kholopa said it is pleasing that Fifa had finally approved all the 15 names that were submitted.
Kholopa said the panel has five women and 10 men.
“We are also happy that, finally, Fifa has also given us two slots for Beach Soccer referees which will be vital for the growth of the sport in the country,” he said.
Kholopa has since urged elite referees in the country to keep on working hard and compete for places on the Fifa list.
National Football Referees Association General Secretary Chris Kalichero said this was a normal procedure for every year.
“These match officials undergo various tests and names of those who do well are submitted to Fifa for approval. So this is what we do every year. There is nothing new. Replacements on the list are made depending on age or results of tests,” Kalichero said.
He said inclusion on the list makes the 15 eligible for appointment to officiate both local and international matches.
One of the assistant referees on the list, Kanduku, is among the officials to take charge of matches at the forthcoming African Nations Championship in Algeria.