Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has cast doubt over the participation of the national football teams in this year’s Cosafa competitions due to the suspension of matches due to Covid-19.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu made the remarks yesterday following Council of Southern African Football Association’s (Cosafa) announcement that it plans to fulfil its calendar of events in the midst of the pandemic.
But he said it will be difficult to compete in the Cosafa events with sporting activities in the country, especially football, suspended in the country.
“It won’t be easy [to participate] if football doesn’t return to action,” he said.
However, the FAM president said: “We are closely monitoring the Covid-19 trends and hoping that the situation will improve for the better.”
On his part, Minister of Information Gospel Kazako, who is also spokesperson for Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, said it is unclear when football will be allowed to return to action.
“Government will make a decision later,” he said.
In a press statement on Wednesday, Cosafa secretary general Sue Destombes said the body remains hopeful of a full calendar in 2021 having learnt many lessons from the four championships staged in the Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa at the end of last year.
Then, the Senior Women’s and Under-17 Championships plus the Men’s Under-17 and Under-20, which were continental qualifiers, were held within a six-week period.
She said. “We are very pleased with how these events were organised under very difficult circumstances and we take what we learnt in Nelson Mandela Bay into our planning for 2021.
“We have a full calendar of tournaments at this stage and we are hopeful we will be able to stage them all, even in these most challenging times.”
Destombes explained that the highlight must be the introduction of the regional club tournament, Women’s Champions League, which will be a zonal qualifier for the new CAF Women’s Champions League later this year.
“We are planning for a busy year to fulfil our mandate as Cosafa, which is to develop the game on-and-off the pitch in the Southern African region. We are excited about what lies ahead for us over the next 11 months.”
The regional men’s Cosafa Cup is scheduled for May 31 and June 16, which is the Fifa window period while the men’s Under-20 Championship is slated for December.
The men’s Under-20 Championship is expected to be played as part of the Region 5 Games in Lesotho in December alongside the Women’s Under-20 Championship.
The Senior Women’s Championship is scheduled for September while the Women’s Under-17 event is planned for August.
Cosafa is also hopeful of hosting a beach soccer event in July and a first-ever futsal competition in September/October in Mozambique.