The Malawi Under-20 national soccer team’s participation in the 2015 CAF Youth Championship remains in doubt as government is yet to release funding for its preparations.
The Junior Flames were slated to go into camp last Saturday in Blantyre to prepare for the preliminary first-leg qualifier against the Young Zebras of Botswana on April 5, but as of yesterday, FAM was still waiting for funding from government.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda yesterday confirmed that the Junior Flames were facing a race against time to kick-start their preparations.
FAM is reported to have submitted a K41.6 million (US$102 211) budget for the two matches.
“We were advised by government to prioritise between the Under-20 tournament and the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations and we chose the junior tournament, but we have already lost four days of preparations as we are still waiting for funding from government.
“Our major concern is that the players have not played together as a team and the coaching panel needed a bit of time to put them together. Otherwise, we face the prospect of just participating and not necessarily competing,” said Nyirenda.
Pulling out would have been a better option, but unfortunately, FAM does not have such a choice as doing so would lead to a five-year ban from participating in junior continental competitions and a further $20 000 [about K8.6 million] fine according to the FAM CEO.
Nyirenda said he has been pushing the issue through the Malawi National Council of Sports who are also waiting for government’s response.
Sports Council executive secretary George Jana yesterday said FAM’s request was forwarded to the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
“We got the request and as per requirement, it was sent to the ministry and we are waiting for the response,” said Jana yesterday.
The Nation could not get principal secretary Justin Saidi’s comment yesterday as he was attending a meeting.
FAM is yet to release both the squad and the technical panel, but according to The Nation findings, Ernest Mtawali is the head coach and will be assisted by Gerald Phiri whereas technical director John Kaputa will also be part of the set-up.
The winner between Malawi and Botswana will face DR Congo in the first-round in May.