Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has downplayed the cost for 11 more players who have made their way to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with the Flames for a 10-day camp ahead of Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Cameroon.
The development comes after the number the Saudi Arabia FA was set to host has exceeded the initial 35 to 46 people.
FAM is on record as having confirmed that the oil-rich country will provide expenses for a delegation of 35, estimated to cost K82.4 million which translates to K2.4 million per individual.
This means FAM will need to cough around K26.4 million for the 11 extra players yet the nation was told that the budget for the team’s Afcon participation is short by K154 million.
But in an interview on Sunday, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said the hosts will meet the cost of 11 extra players.
“All costs are under control. Saudi Arabia is meeting all expenses,” he said.
However, an inside source at FAM said even without Saudi Arabia’s offer, FAM was expected to meet their cost of those travelling with the team for the camp because it is within budget.
“The team was supposed to camp outside the country with the said delegates and FAM was supposed to finance that by all means. The coming in of Saudi Arabia to support us is a bonus. That is to say the 11 that FAM will meet the cost on its own is within the expenditure arrangement for the team’s participation at Afcon,” said the source.
According to FAM, the Flames budget for Afcon finals is pegged at K485 million.
Commenting on the extra costs FAM is supposed to meet for 11 extra players, soccer analyst George Kaudza Masina said much as 46 might look bigger, it is justifiable.
He said: “Much as the hosts had given FAM a number of 35, bringing 46 as they have done is very much in order as long as they are able to foot the bills for the additional people. As an FA, this is an opportunity to travel with other administrators to learn one or two things plus sign agreements where necessary.
“The only challenge is that this is coming at a time when FAM is complaining of financial challenges to meet allowances for the team and at the same time takes a big contingent of officials. Notwithstanding this, each member of the travelling squad has a role to play in Saudi Arabia and cutting the entourage wouldn’t have been the right thing.”
The Flames had their first training session on Sunday morning as they commenced their 10-day pre-Afcon training camp in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The 14 players, who travelled in the first group, took part in the session at the Ittihad training complex.
The other nine, who arrived on Sunday, were excused from the morning session to continue with their recovery but will train with the squad this afternoon.