It’s official. Bingu National Stadium is now Malawi national football team’s new home after dumping the dilapidated Kamuzu Stadium which lies in desolation, ending decades of Blantyre’s dominance of hosting international matches.
Confederation of African Football (CAF) has certified the newly-built Stadium fit to host the Flames’ matches starting with Champions of Africa Nations (Chan) preliminary round second leg against Madagascar on April 29.
CAF club licensing manager and competitions division head Ahmed Harraz confirmed the development yesterday.
“I just sent an E-mail to the federation [FAM] informing them that the Bingu National Stadium has been approved by CAF,” he said in an e-mail response.
The development marks the end of the Flames use of the Kamuzu Stadium constructed in colonial era and originally named Rangeley Stadium to commemorate British civil servant William H. J. Rangeley.
The football Mecca, as the Kamuzu Stadium has been known over the years, has been condemned in ruins for five years with no funding from government for renovations.
Three-quarters of the stadium’s stands were cordoned off due to safety risk after structural engineers’ resonance test in 2012 proved they were past their life span and needed an overhaul.
Yet government spent millions of kwacha in constructing floodlights at the stadium just some years ago.
A week ago, CAF envoy led by Kenyan Muhammad Issa, jetted into the country to inspect stadiums and Football Association of Malawi (FAM) only submitted the newly-built 40 000 capacity Bingu National Stadium for the exercise.
Civo Stadium, which was Flames alternative in the 90s, was already condemned by the continental football governing body and Fifa.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary Alfred Gunda said they were confident that the stadium would pass the test.
He, however, said he was yet to get the official communication from CAF.
Bingu Stadium manager Eric Ning’ang’a said he had no doubts that the Chinese-built facility would get CAF’s nod.
He said: “We have been working night and day to ensure that the facility is ready to host high profile international matches.
“The public should be assured that we will guard this facility jealously so that it continues to be a shining beacon in the country’s sports infrastructure.” n