It is now official. Civo Stadium will host next monthâ€™s 2013 Africa Cup of Nations decisive qualifier between Malawiâ€™s the Flames and Ghanaâ€™s Black Stars.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu and Flames coach Kinnah Phiri have since described the development as a huge setback in the quest to turn the tables. The Flames need to win the game by a three-goal margin having lost the first leg 2-0 in Accra.
Nyamilandu said the development follows a meeting held in Malawiâ€™s commercial city, Blantyre, on Saturday where it was established that the report on the condition of Kamuzu Stadium will take a while and FAM had no choice but to opt for Civo as they had already failed to meet the cut-off point to communicate to CAF.
â€œWe met the stakeholders, including government officials, on Saturday and we were told that the official report [on Kamuzu Stadium] is not yet out.
â€œThey informed us that the report will have to be submitted to the Ministry of Youth and Sports and then the minister [of sports] who will in turn have to present it to the OPC [Office of the President and Cabinet] who commissioned the inquiry and that process could take a while.
â€œSo, we had no choice. It was, therefore, agreed to proceed and play the match at Civo Stadium. FAM CEO [Suzgo Nyirenda] has since been instructed to communicate the same to CAF. It is obviously a setback because Kamuzu Stadium has been our home ground and we are used to the pitch. Even in terms of revenue, we stand to lose out.
â€œBut as I said, we have no choice but to comply with the deadline set by CAF. We are equally disappointed, but safety of the fans is a priority,â€ said Nyamilandu.
Kinnah also described the development as a disappointment.
â€œWhen you talk about home ground advantage, it includes factors such as being familiar with the pitch. The other thing is that Ghana will be comfortable playing at Civo because most of their players are used to playing on natural surface.
â€œBut I am afraid, there is little we can do about the situation. We just need to shift base to Lilongwe in good time so that we get used to the pitch,â€ said Kinnah.
Second Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Sports Justin Saidi said he could not comment in the absence of an official report. Sports Minister Enoch Chakufwa Chihana could not be reached for comment.
The Flames are scheduled to host Ghana on October 13.
Civo Stadium is currently closed for minor renovations.