FAM says it has turned to chartering flights for the Flames to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19 and ease travel challenges as a result of travel restrictions.
Chartered flights are more expensive than commercial ones and for the Zambia trip it will cost Football Association of Malawi (FAM) about $24 500 (K18.6 million).
The Malawi national football team has travelled to Zambia for tomorrow’s international friendly against Zambia’s Chipolopolo in a chartered flight.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu on Monday said the Flames will also travel to Burkina Faso next month for their 2022 Africa Cup of Nations’ (Afcon) qualifier by a chartered plane.
He defended the move, saying: “It is very crucial that we ease their travel and reduce the risk of exposure of the travelling contingent to Covid-19.
“We are also mindful that Burkina Faso is far away; hence, the need to reduce fatigue, having come from a long lay off.
“The home and away fixtures against Burkina Faso are back-to-back and we cannot afford to compromise our chances of winning.
“We are geared to improve the comfort and welfare of the players so that they are motivated to excel and bring honours to the country.”
Nyamilandu said the hiked game bonuses is a demonstration that “we mean business because we want to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations”.
Football analyst George Kaudza Masina said: “FAM has now started making sense because the world over, most FAs [football associations] opt to charter planes to and from matches unlike using commercial flights.
“What FAM has done is the way to go, not only for fear of fatigue but also for the safety of our players and officials.
“Chartering might be seen by many as expensive, but it becomes cheaper in the long-run. For instance, travelling to Burkina Faso under the current circumstances might not be cheap if you factor in winding routes , accommodation and so on.
“So, let FAM continue chartering flights past Covid-19 era as they are financially sound to afford doing so.”
Meanwhile, the Flames delegation, which is being led by FAM executive committee member Muhammad Seleman, arrived in Lusaka on Monday morning and FAM competitions and communications director Gomezgani Zakazaka said the team was expected to train in the afternoon.
He also said Moldova-based defender Charles Petro is expected to arrive today in Lusaka ahead of tomorrow’s match slated for Nkoloma Stadium.