By Mabvuto Kambuwe:
Football Association of Malawi (Fam) has pressed the panic button as government is yet to release funds for the Malawi under-20 national football team to start preparations for the 2018 Mopani Mines Cosafa Youth Championship scheduled for this weekend in Kitwe, Zambia.
With the regional competition due to kick off on Sunday, the junior Flames are yet to regroup.
Malawi start their Group A campaign against Mozambique on the opening day before meeting the Democratic Republic of Congo and hosts Zambia.
A well-placed source at Fam Monday confided in The Daily Times that the association was panicking as the government has not released funds to the team.
The association held a meeting Monday at Mpira Village in Blantyre on the same.
The development has forced the association to delay camping for the junior Flames, who have failed to go past the group stages at the tournament for two consecutive editions.
When contacted Monday, Fam General Secretary, Alfred Gunda, was elusive on the matter.
However, Malawi National Council of Sports Executive Secretary, George Jana, assured the soccer fraternity that the government would release the funds.
“Fam requested for funding for the tournament and we are in the process of finalising everything. So, no pressure; the funds will be released,” Jana said.
But the team’s Coach, Meke Mwase, has bemoaned poor preparations for the tournament.
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. The state of affairs is making life difficult for us. We are left with just days to prepare for this tournament. There might be loss of form for some players and, so, we needed more time to assess them,” he said.
Mwase is banking his hopes on the team’s established stars such as Peter Banda, Chinsinsi Maonga, Charles Thom, Fransisco Madinga, Andrew Malisero and Chikondi Mbeta.
Soccer analyst Higger Mkandawire has since asked the association to maintain the team that participated in the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations and exited after losing 2-0 on aggregate to South Africa.
“We can do well in Zambia if we maintain the team which played against South Africa. We should also work on the technical problems which contributed to our exit from the continental competition. Fam should also retain the technical panel,” Mkandawire said.
Malawi have disappointed in the last two editions of the regional tournament after failing to go past the group stages.
The junior Flames’ worst appearance was in 2016 when they failed to score in three games.
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