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More misery for Flames as Mozambique opt for Benin

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Gomezgani Zakazaka

It never rains but pours for Football Association of Malawi (Fam) after Mozambique Football Federation opted for Mathieu Kerekou Stadium in Cotonou, Benin, as their home ground the for dead-rubber 2022 World Cup qualifier against Malawi.

The Flames will face Mambas in Benin on November 16 2021, just three days after hosting the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon at Orlando Stadium in South Africa.

This means Mozambique Federation have complicated Flames’ budget as the association is already struggling to mobilise resources for the team’s participation in next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Cameroon.

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Fam Competitions and Communications Director Gomezgani Zakazaka confirmed the development.

“We got communication that we will play Mozambique in Benin. For them, it is a bit cheaper because they will travel to Benin for the match against Ivory Coast before hosting us,” he added.

Initially, Mozambique had planned to host the Flames in Tanger, Morocco.

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Before settling for Benin, the Mozambican federation also had options in South Africa and Kenya.

Three teams in Group D ,namely Malawi, Ivory Coast and Mozambique, are playing their home matches away from home after Confederation of African Football banned their respective stadiums.

According to Zakazaka, the Flames are expected to regroup on Sunday before flying to South Africa on Monday for the match against Cameroon slated for Saturday next week.

Sports analyst George Kaudza-Masina said there is no need to press the panic button.

“Travelling to Benin is cheaper than Morocco so Mozambique have made a good decision,” he added.

The Flames World Cup dream ended after back-to-back defeats to Ivory Coast last month. Malawi lost 3-0 to the Elephants at Orlando Stadium before suffering another 2-1 defeat in Benin.

It is now a two-horse-race in Group D in the World Cup qualifiers between Ivory Coast and Cameroon. The Elephants lead with 10 points from four matches followed by Cameroon on nine points.

Malawi are third with three points whereas Mozambique anchor the group with a single point.

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