Amid all the drama this week when a storm hit Big Bullets FC ship and sent it plunging into murky waters, club acting chairperson Sadik Malinga claims the situation is now under control ahead of tomorrow’s CAF Champions League first-round second leg against Al Hilal of Sudan at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
Sickening internal wrangles, swelling debts and the 4-0 Khartoum humiliation raised questions about the People’s Team’s preparedness to fulfil the second leg fixture.
“It has been a very taxing and difficult week considering the many challenges we had in the week leading to such a crucial game such as change of leadership coupled with financial challenges and internal wrangles, but I would say the situation is under control now and focus has shifted to the important assignment we have on Sunday,” said Malinga.
He also dispelled fears about the availability of referees saying their travel bookings have been completed.
Initially, a set of four referees from South Africa and a Zambian match commissioner were expected to arrive yesterday, but Malinga said due to technical hitches, only the match commissioner was expected to arrive yesterday while the referees will fly in this afternoon.
“We have already finalised the travel arrangements and Football Association of Malawi (FAM) will handle the accommodation aspect.
“The issue of their allowances is also being looked into so too food and accommodation expenses for the visiting team at Protea Ryalls,” said Malinga.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that former treasurer Noel Lipipa has come to Bullets’ rescue.
The People’s Team is currently swimming under a pile of debts incurred so far in the continental campaign to be in excess of K30 million.
However, Al Hilal president Mahdi Mohamed Khalil Elbahar sang a different tune in a separate interview yesterday saying: “My friend, these people [Bullets] are playing with our minds and today I am going to make a big decision which Africa will talk about for weeks and months.”
Although Elbahar could not elaborate, on Thursday he threatened not to fulfil the fixture if Bullets do not honour the agreement they signed in Khartoum to pay for each other’s expenses.
“We have paid some money here at the hotel as collateral and it is yet to be redeemed and right now we do not have any money left.”
However, FAM club licensing and facilities manager Casper Jangale played down the issue saying it will be resolved amicably by tomorrow.
“The resolution is that we will be entrusted with proceeds from the gates and the priority will be to pay Al Hilal and match officials’ accommodation and also their allowances.
“In the event that the revenue will be high, then we shall consider paying other expenses, in particular Skylinks for the air tickets that Bullets used to travel to Sudan,” said Jangale.
He also said according to the rules of the competition, a team is responsible for its expenses, “but there is a provision that the teams involved can come up with a special arrangement to pay for each other. Apparently the agreement between Bullets and Al Hilal was reached in the presence of match commissioner.”