Football Association of Malawi (Fam) presidential race took a new twist on Saturday night when candidates articulated their manifestos during a debate held at Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe.
Hosted by Zodiak Broadcasting Station ahead of Saturday’s Fam elections at Sunbird Nkopola in Mangochi, observers gave mild reactions to the debate.
During the debate, Wilkins Mijiga and incumbent Walter Nyamilandu, caught the attention of the huge gathering, which included minister of sports and culture, Grace Chiumia, and Fam electoral committee chairperson, Justice Dingiswayo Madise.
Mijiga and Nyamilandu showed great composure when articulating issues, and they also took turns to punch holes into each other’s remarks.
Another candidate, Willy Yabwanya Phiri, also did well when he showed great knowledge of Malawi football. All the candidates touched on youth football development.
However, Nyamilandu surprised many people when he described Malawi national football team, the Flames, as among the best teams in Africa. The Flames are currently on 109th position on the latest Fifa/Coca-cola rankings.
“We have qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2010 and the Under-17 also took part in the World Cup in Nigeria, and I think we should be proud of the achievements,” Nyamilandu said.
Yabwanya said it was embarrassing that the Flames lost 2-0 to South Sudan at the just-ended 2015 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Ethiopia.
“At 51, Malawi gets beaten by South Sudan, are we progressing? Our team has been performing poorly for many years,” Yabwanya said.
On his part, Mijiga said the current Fam leadership has concentrated on the senior team.
“It is sad that we have spent much time building the roof instead of the foundation. We can only talk about meaningful football development if we invest in youth football,” Mijiga said.
On infrastructure development, all candidates pledged to ensure adequate sports facilities, but all were not convincing on how they will go about it.
Local sports analyst, Charles Nyirenda, said the candidates articulated their manifestos well.
“There are certain elements where the candidates outclassed each other, but I think they tried their best to impress the crowd,” he said.
Beach Soccer Malawi general secretary, Davie Saddo, whose association will vote during the elections, felt the candidates demonstrated enough football passion.
“One could see a holistic approach to addressing Malawi football from Yabwanya, the leadership approach as espoused by Mijiga and a technical approach and a response to the ‘how’s’ propounded by the incumbent,” Saddo said on Sunday.
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