The newly-built Bingu National Stadium cannot host an international match until Fifa or Confederation of African Football (CAF) inspects and approves it for such purposes.
The development has thrown spanners into the international friendly match between Malawi and China select side on January 28.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary Alfred Gunda confirmed that they are yet to seek permission from CAF to do a preliminary assessment of the facility.
He said: “First, we need CAF to inspect the stadium specifically for the match to be played on January 28. After that, we can now inform Fifa to come and inspect it ahead of our 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.”
The stadium already hosted a local match, the Luso TV Bus Ipite Football Bonanza second leg final between Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers.
After the match, FAM and other stakeholders made recommendations to the Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development, owners of the arena.
“The CAF inspection ahead of the opening day match against China, gives us an opportunity to have the venue upgraded to required standards before Fifa comes to inspect it,” he said.
But the association now faces a race against time to have the stadium inspected before the official opening match in 10 days.
Gunda said this was due to communication breakdown on the nature of the match against the Chinese team.
He said: “When inviting CAF to come and do the preliminary assessment, we are also supposed to explain to them the purpose which is the official opening match against the Chinese team. Unfortunately, we were not given all the details about the match and the team itself in time.
“This made it difficult to classify the match since there are two tiers—one for international friendly matches played on Fifa calendar date and the second tier for those played on any other date. In this case, we needed guidance from the ministry.”
Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development spokesperson Simon Mbvundula faulted FAM for failing to be proactive.
“The facility was built for international matches. They did not even need to wait for us to tell them to inform relevant authorities to inspect and accredit the stadium after the facility hosted the local match,” he said.
Malawi National Council of Sports executive secretary George Jana, whose body is responsible for accreditation of government sports facilities, said they already discussed the issue with FAM.
“You are telling me the new stadium is not accredited? That’s news to me. We already discussed that issue with FAM and we were waiting for them to notify us that the inspection has been done and that the stadium can now host international matches,” he said.n