Four-time African footballer of the year Samuel Eto’o and Malawi football legend Ernest ‘Wire’ Mtawali will headline the Mpira Stadium inauguration match to be played tomorrow and will also feature Fifa President Gianni Infantino.
According to a statement released by the Football Association of Malawi (FAM), Eto’o, a two-time Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), three-time Uefa Champions League and one-time Olympic winner, will lead a team of Fifa and FAM officials that will also include former French international Youri Raffi Djorjkaeff, a 1998 Fifa World Cup and Euro 2000 winner with France.
The Fifa/FAM team will also feature Infantino, FAM President Walter Nyamilandu and other high-profile Fifa and FAM officials, including FAM first vice-president James Mwenda, Flames coach Meck Mwase and his assistants Lovemore Fazili and Bob Mpinganjira as well as Malawi Under-20 coach and former Flames captain Peter Mponda.
On the other hand, Mtawali who played club football in South Africa, Argentina, France, Italy and Saudi Arabia, will lead a team of former Flames greats such as Patrick ‘General’ Mabedi, Chancy ‘Vinny’ Gondwe, Swadick Sanudi, Joseph Kamwendo and Fischer Kondowe, among others.
Legendary coaches Kinnah Phiri and Yasin Osman will be in charge of the Fifa/FAM and the Flames legends teams, respectively.
The match is one of the activities lined up ahead of Infantino’s first visit to Malawi whose main objective is to inaugurate the Mpira Stadium and the FAM Football Academy which were funded under his Fifa Forward initiative.
FAM general secretary (GS) Alfred Gunda said the association is excited to host the Fifa delegation.
“It is very exciting to see Eto’o and Djorkafeul come to Malawi and play a match. Malawians have for a long time been looking forward to seeing Eto’o in Malawi. Flames did not play Cameroon during the time he was playing. We have had big stars from Ivory Coast, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria and Ghana coming to Malawi, but not Eto’o.
“As FAM, we thought of also honouring our own sons to come and be part of this great event,” he said.
“Having the Fifa president in our country to appreciate our football development projects is exciting. It gives us a chance to showcase what we are doing with their money and enable us to lobby for more.”
Mtawali, a former Flames coach, said he was excited to be called for such a match and thanked FAM for the gesture.
“To have former players come together and mingle with top officials is a great initiative, we hope this will continue beyond this event,” he said.
According to Gunda, the Fifa delegation will arrive at the Chileka International Airport tomorrow at 2pm and will proceed to Mpira Village in Chiwembe where, led by Infantino and Minister of Sports Francis Phiso, will be conducted on a tour of the stadium and its official inauguration.
The delegation, which will also include CAF president Ahmad Ahmad, Fifa GS Fatma Samoura, deputy GS Mattias Grafstrom, acting head of member associations Veron Mosengo- Omba, head of communication Onofre Costa, president’s office manager Federico Raviglione and regional development officer David Fani, will leave the country at 8pm in the evening the of same day.