Confederation of African Football (CAF) has snubbed some of its member associations’ suggestion to consider shifting 2022 Africa Cup of Nations’ (Afcon) qualifiers due to their teams’ state of preparedness in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) was among the associations that enquired on whether there would be a possibility of shifting the qualifiers on the basis that players might not be fit due to the long break.
The Flames are scheduled to face Burkina Faso’s Stallions back-to-back in November.
But FAM president Walter Nyamilandu, who is also a CAF executive committee member, yesterday said: “Yes, CAF has made it clear that it will not change its calendar because of one country.
“The situation is rather tight for us, but we have enough time between now and November to prepare for the Afcon qualifiers against Burkina Faso if football restarts in September. It’s not too late.
“During the meeting we had with the clubs and national team captains last week, they raised concerns about the need for sufficient training so that they should gain match fitness prior to engaging in the forthcoming international competitions.
“They were subsequently satisfied with the six-week training that has been stipulated in the Covid-19 Football Medical Protocol and Safety Guidelines,” said Nyamilandu.
On his part, Flames coach Meck Mwase yesterday said as a technical panel, they have asked FAM to request government for a special clearance to allow the Flames to start camp training on Monday next week.
Stand-in captain John ‘CJ’ Banda said: “To be honest, we are in a tricky situation because locally-based players have been inactive for over seven months and that is a very long period in football.
“I am not sure if our opponents Burkina Faso’s season is on, but they have an advantage because most of their players are based in Europe where most of the leagues have been active.
“For now, it is not clear when football will resume and perhaps under such circumstances, FAM should seek special clearance for national team players to start training.”
Last week, football analyst Felix Ngamanya Sapao said it will be impossible to raise Malawi players’ fitness levels in time to face the Burkanabes.
He said: “We should not cheat ourselves. Malawi is not ready to play Burkina Faso in November. The bulk of our players in the team are from the local league, and most of them are not active. FAM should request CAF accordingly and tell them the truth.”
“Burkina Faso can raise two teams from European and North African-based players who are active right now.”
Some of the Stallions’ Europe-based stars are Jonathan Pitroipa (PSG, France), Edmond Tapson (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany), Charles Kabore (Dynamo Kiev, Ukraine), Betrand Traore (Lyon, France), Issa Kabore (Manchester City, England and Lassina Traore (AFC Ajax, The Netherlands).
Malawi on the other hand has Charles Petro and Francisco Madinga in Europe while Yamikani Chester plays in USA.