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Flames return today, with FDH Bank pledging luxury bus

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Walter Nyamilandu

After an impressive performance at the 33rd Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Cameroon, the Malawi National Football Team is expected to receive a hearty welcome as it returns home today.

The Flames will touch down at Chileka International Airport in Blantyre this afternoon, with Ministry of Youth and Sports officials leading Malawians in according the team a warm welcome back home.

The ministry’s spokesperson Allie Kalichero said the Flames deserve a grand welcome after performing beyond expectations.

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“Government officials will indeed be present at the airport to welcome the team back home. The team made the country proud and the government is pleased with it,” Kalichero said.

Nyasa Big Bullets Director of Supporters Stone Mwamadi said the Flames deserve a heroes’ welcome for performing beyond expectations.

“We are ready to welcome our team back home. We want to show our players that we appreciate what they did in Cameroon. They performed beyond our expectations and we will throng Chileka to give them a heroes’ welcome,” Mwamadi said.

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Meanwhile, FDH Bank plc has pledged to purchase a brand new state-of-the-art luxury coach for the Flames.

FDH Holdings Group Chief Executive Officer William Mpinganjira made the announcement on Wednesday when he visited the Flames at their base at Djeunga Palace in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Mpinganjira, who flew to Cameroon with other FDH Bank officials on Tuesday and watched the match against Morocco, told the players that their performance at the continental showpiece was impressive.

“We have been with the team for six years now and we are happy with the progress that we have made together along the way. As a token of appreciation for your performance here in Cameroon, we will buy you a brand-new coach.

“The condition of the bus you are using now is not good and we discussed this with Fam officials sometime back. The purchase of the bus is, over and above, our annual contribution to the Flames. This is just the beginning of more good things to come,” he said.

The Flames made history by qualifying for the knockout stage of the competition for the first time ever after failing to go beyond the group stage in 1984 and 2010.

The team exited the tournament with a 2-1 loss to Morocco in a last 16 encounter.

Fam President Walter Nyamilandu thanked FDH for the timely gesture.

“The bus the Flames are using is old and needs urgent replacement. We have been struggling with efforts to replace it due to limited funds. FDH Bank’s gesture is therefore very timely and we remain forever grateful.

“FDH is a great partner in the development of the game. You may wish to know that the bank gave us the whole K120 million annual sponsorship at once. We don’t take this for granted,” Nyamilandu said.

The Flames use a luxury bus which Fifa donated to member associations after the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa.

FDH started sponsoring the Flames in 2016 to the tune of K30 million per year before doubling the amount in 2018.

Last year, the bank further hiked the sponsorship to K120 million.

FDH also bankrolls a national cup to the tune of K90 million.

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