Fifa has retained 15 Malawian referees for the 2021 international referees panel.
Out of the 15, six are centre referees and the rest are assistant referees.
According to a statement FAM released on Thursday, the centre referees are Ishmael Chizinga, Mercy Kayira, Godfrey Nkhakananga, Eness Gumbo, Gift Chicco and Easter Zimba.
The assistant referees comprise Bernadettar Kwimbira-Mzika, Clemence Kanduku, Happiness Mbandambanda, Innocent Kaundula, Edward Kambatuwa, Eliza Sichinga, Jonizio Luwizi, Joseph Nyauti and Evance Msonda.
Msonda is a new face and has replaced the late Ibrahim Mafuleka. Mafuleka died in March last year.
The rest of the referees have been maintained from last year’s list.
In an interview on Thursday, FAM referees development officer Maxwell Mtonga said the referees were maintained because there were no activities last year to assess their performance due to Covid-19.
He said: “We are pleased that Fifa has confirmed the names of referees we recommended for the 2021 Fifa international panel.
“They had earlier indicated that we should bring back the referees who were on the panel for 2020 because there was less activity because of the Covid-19 pandemic so they have been retained after they passed the fitness test that we conducted in October last year.”
Speaking in an interview, Kwimbira-Mzika said she is delighted and has since pledged to continue working hard.
“I thank God because it is not easy to get such recognition, considering hat there are many good up-and-coming referees in Africa,” she said.
Kwimbira-Mzika is Malawi’s celebrated female referee, having officiated at two Fifa Women’s World Cups, five Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, one Olympic, one Youth Olympics and Fifa Women’s Under-20 World Cup, among other high-profile assignments.
In 2013, she emerged the best at the joint elite men and women’s referees course in Cairo, Egypt and in October last year, she was named the overall best among the 33 top African female referees, who attended a five-day CAF Elite-A women referees course in Djibout.
National Referees Association general secretary Chris Kalichero said it is inspiring to have a good number of referees on the Fifa list.
“We need to fight on so that we should go beyond that level,” he said.