Two years after Morocco FA pledged to construct a K3 billion technical centre in Lilongwe, the project is nowhere near being ready to take off and Football Association of Malawi (FAM) feels deceived by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (RMFF).
In a bid to garner votes from Fifa member associations for its 2026 World Cup hosting bid, Morocco, like a Good Samaritan, offered to help some African countries, including Malawi, in infrastructure development and other areas.
FAM and RMFF in 2017 signed a three-year agreement in which the Moroccans committed to assist Malawi in capacity building in the areas of infrastructure, refereeing, coaching, and football medicine.
When announcing the agreement, Morocco FA director of football Hajji Mouad, said the technical development centre would be complete with offices, 50 rooms, a fitness centre, an office block, a restaurant and an artificial pitch.
The second phase of the project would see the installation of an artificial turf at Luwinga Technical Centre in Mzuzu and a grass pitch at Chilomoni Stadium in Blantyre.
However, with just a year before the agreement expires, Morocco has not delivered in all areas except hosting the Flames in 2017.
The technical centre project was supposed to kick-start in 2017 but RMFF rescheduled the implementation so that it could concentrate on the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia where Morocco competed.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu disclosed that they had several times demanded an explanation on the delay, but they have not received a plausible explanation from their counterparts.
The FAM boss said the Moroccans have been giving flimsy excuses for the delay.
“Lots of excuse that do not make sense; we have sought their official position in writing. The project is still in limbo at this stage. We are still making efforts to revive the project so that they can fulfil their promise,” said Nyamilandu during the week.
FAM already planned to build a technical centre in Lilongwe.
However, following Moroccans’ pledge the association shelved their plans.
But failure to implement the project has derailed the association’s infrastrure development plans for Lilongwe, according to Nyamilandu.
“FAM’s projects in Lilongwe were taken over and replaced by Madonna’s Rising Star [academy] and the Morocco FA technical centre that were imminent. They should have been concluded by now,” he said.
With hope on the implementation fading, FAM now wants to implement the projects using its own funds.
“We will revisit our plans for Lilongwe. If Morocco FA project doesn’t materialise, we will shift and allocate all resources to Lilongwe after completing Blantyre and Mzuzu projects,” said Nyamilandu.
FAM is currently upgrading Chiwembe Stadium using Fifa Forward Project funds.
The association also plans to install an artificial turf and construct a wall at Luwinga Technical Centre in Mzuzu.
But soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda blamed FAM for falling prey to Morocco’s World Cup bidding campaign promises.
Malawi voted for the north African country’s bid which lost 65-134 to a joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada.
“The problem with FAM leadership is that it trusted Morocco to fulfil the promises when it was clear that they were just searching for votes.
“FAM should have known that Morocco had ulterior motives. The offer did not come in good faith,” he said.
Malawi government, which witnessed the signing of the agreement through Ministry of Sports, has distanced itself from the project.
“We only facilitated the agreement between the two FAs. The agreement is between FAM and Morocco FA,” said director of sports Jameson Ndalama.