Football Association of Malawi (FAM) is still interested to host this year’s Cosafa Under-17 Youth Championship despite funding uncertainties and possibility of change of dates due to negative financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said this yesterday when asked if the association will be capable of hosting the international event considering that it will require funding from government.
The competition was scheduled to be conducted between July 22 and August 1 at Mpira Stadium in Chiwembe Township, Blantyre, but the dates are set to change, FAM and Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) have confirmed.
Nyamilandu on Thursday said the country’s hosting of the international event, “will depend on the availability of funds and the revised Fifa calendar, which will be released soon”.
The tournament is expected to be the zonal qualifier for the Under-17 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) and 14 Cosafa member countries, namely, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Madagascar, the Comoros, e-Swatini (formerly Swaziland), Seychelles and Mauritius are expected to participate.
Nyamilandu said: “Our interest remains to host the Cosafa Under-17 championship. Nothing changes, but it will depend on the revised international football calendar and availability of funds at the time.
“Let us wait and see how things will pan out. Everything hinges on how long the pandemic will persist as most things have been put on hold due to this crisis. Hopefully, the outbreak will ease soon.”
Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture spokesperson Symon Mbvundula confirmed receiving FAM’s request for funding to host the Cosafa Youth championship, but said it is tricky to affirm government’s commitment to the event in the wake of the pandemic.
“After receiving FAM’s request, we were consulting stakeholders, but all that stopped due to the outbreak. So, it is tricky at present to forge the way forward. But a decision will be made soon on how we should go about it,” he said.
In a questionnaire response, Cosafa secretary general Sue Destombes said her body was awaiting feedback from FAM on the proposed dates for the contest, but she did not rule out changes.
Last year, Malawi hosted the event for the first time in 18 years, but failed to relive their 2001 success that saw them winning the tournament as hosts. Zambia are the current champions.