The local organising committee (LOC) for the Cosafa Under-17 Youth Championship says the decision to hold the tournament in Blantyre was reached as one way of cutting costs.
Malawi will host the tournament in September and the LOC has settled for Blantyre which has Kamuzu Stadium and Mpira Stadium, yet Lilongwe has four stadia, namely Bingu National Stadium, Civo Stadium, Silver Stadium and Nankhaka Stadium.
But the LOC chairperson James Mwenda, who is also FAM first vice-president, said they reached the decision after considering the pros and cons of having the tournament in Lilongwe.
He said: “Firstly, FAM has its headquarters at Chiwembe in Blantyre which has a fully fledged hotel, restaurant, gym and Mpira Stadium. We would like to utilise the Mpira Village for the Cosafa Under-17 tournament.
“Hosting the tournament in Blantyre means that we will not have to book for accommodation at other hotels for teams and officials. But if we were to move it to Lilongwe, then we would have to bear those costs.”
But while the LOC is thinking of cutting costs, it risks compromising the tournament since it will only have Kamuzu Stadium and Mpira Stadium for the tourney.
Since Kamuzu Stadium has an artificial turf, standard practice follows that the participating teams will also have to use artificial turfs for training, unless if they prefer natural grass.
Mwenda said the eight teams will have to share one pitch for training.
he said: “We have done it before. Mauritius, who have been hosting the Under-17 tournaments for the past three years, have one stadium with an artificial turf.
“We can also do the same here. If we decide to use Kamuzu Stadium, then the teams will share the Mpira Stadium for training. It’s just a matter of coming up with a schedule which teams have to follow.”
FAM general secretary (GS) Alfred Gunda said they already engaged Cosafa on the facilities that are available in the country.
“You should note that we first and foremost engaged Cosafa as organisers, on the facilities we have and their status. For this competition, it is clear that there will be sufficient allocated time for the eight teams to training on artificial turf before a match played on the same,’ he said.
The GS, however, could not rule out possibility of having teams training on natural grass.
“You and me know that even in other countries where artificial turfs have been used for matches, natural grass has been used for training and it’s the same when hosting Cosafa tournaments. The language of teams being short-changed doesn’t apply here,” Gunda said.
Meanwhile, FAM faces race against time to complete Mpira Stadium renovations before September.
The stadium, which has been upgrade to a 9 000-capacity ahead of the tournament, needs a perimeter wall and proper entrances.