Cosafa has given Malawi the green light to host the Senior Challenge Cup Tournament in May this year.
FAM expressed interest to host the regional showpieceÃ¢â‚¬â€that has not been staged for the past two yearsÃ¢â‚¬â€during the Cosafa congress held in Botswana in December last year.
CosafaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s chief operations officer Sue Destombes confirmed that FAM has been given the go-ahead to start preparing for the tournament on an estimated budget of R5 million [about K100 million] that Cosafa will provide.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu, who presented the bid, confirmed that Cosafa has given them the cost parameters.
Said Destombes from South Africa: “Talks with a prospective sponsor are at an advanced stage, but we have asked FAM to work on a R5 million budget that will cover the costs such as accommodation, food and local transport.
“The R5 million budget will be secured by Cosafa. Subject to approval, we are planning to stage the tournament around May.”
Destombes also said she has no doubts that the tournament will be a success considering that Malawi is one of the few countries that attracts a full house whenever it is hosting a Cosafa match.
But she could not be drawn to disclose the name of the prospective sponsor, saying the identity is still confidential at this stage.
“But we are optimistic that there could be one or multiple sponsors,” said Destombes, who could, however, not be drawn to comment on the prize money.
She said Cosafa expects FAM to get government consent to stage the event.
Nyamilandu, who is a Cosafa executive committee member, said the tournament will be played in Lilongwe and Blantyre.
“We are currently working on a feasibility study to see whether the budget is workable in Malawi because costs vary from country to country.
“It is a known fact that within Cosafa, Malawi is the only country that fills a stadium to capacity. That is why when we expressed interest, they did not hesitate to approve [the proposal],” said Nyamilandu.
Asked on which will be the other ideal venue for matches following CosafaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s proposal that it expects the games to be played at two venues in each of the two cities, Nyamilandu said FAM will renovate MDC Stadium. Civo and Silver Stadiums have been earmarked for the tournament in the Capital City.
“If it fails, then we can host all matches at Kamuzu Stadium at different times of the day to provide wholesome entertainment to the fans on the day. It worked during the Cecafa Tournament,” he said.
Nyamilandu also said Malawi stands to benefit from hosting the tournament in terms of attracting more tourists, who are likely to bring in foreign currency.
The FAM leader assured that the Flames will have ample preparations for the tournament.
“Already, the local players are expected to go into camp early next month in preparation for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations second preliminary qualifier against Chad. We are also looking at the possibility of arranging at least two international matches.
“Our aim is to win the tournament as we have done in previous competitions that we have hosted because, as hosts, it would not be good to get eliminated in the early stages,” Nyamilandu said.
Youth Development and Sports Minister Symon Vuwa-Kaunda said government has welcomed the development as such tournaments unite the nation.
“Apart from that, as a country, we stand to benefit in terms of foreign exchange, selling our country, exposure for the up-and-coming players as well as entertainment. So, we support the move to stage the tournament in our country,” he said.
The minister also claimed that CosafaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s decision to approve MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bid was a confirmation that the organisers have confidence in MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s security. He further said Malawi has enough facilities to host the tournament.
“We have quality hotels in both Blantyre and Lilongwe. We have enough stadia such as Kamuzu, Civo and Silver. If need be, MDC Stadium can also be renovated to its initial quality standard. So, we are capable of hosting the tournament and it will have governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s full support,” he said.
The Flames have never won the Cosafa Tournament since its inception in 1997, but they reached the finals in 2002 and 2003 in which they lost by the same 4-1 aggregate to South Africa and Zimbabwe respectively.
Until 2003, when it was sponsored by South African Breweries (SAB) under its Castle Lager brand, the tournament rose to become one of the most exciting and eagerly anticipated competitions on the African soccer calendar. It used to attract then big-name stars based in Europe such as Ernest Mtawali, John Maduka [Malawi], Peter and Adam Ndlovu, Bruce Grobbelaar [Zimbabwe], Kalusha Bwalya and Elijah Tana [Zambia], Eliphas Shivute [Namibia] and Fabrice Ã¢â‚¬ËœAkwaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Matheus and Flavio [Angola].
Over the years, the Cosafa Tournament has unearthed talent the likes of Patrick Mabedi, Peter Mponda, Esau Kanyenda, Dan Chitsulo, Robert NgÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ambi, Joseph Kamwendo, Moses Chavula, Jimmy Zakazaka, Fischer Kondowe, Benni McCarthy, SÃ¢â‚¬â„¢busiso Zuma, Steve Piennar, Manuel Ã¢â‚¬ËœTico-TicoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Bacuane, Wilfred and William Mugeyi Benjani Mwaruwari, Collins Mbesuma, Chris Katongo, Rotson Kilambe, Chaswe Nsofwa and Rotson Kilambe.