FAM says it is concerned that restrictions being imposed on African countries, mostly southern Africa, following the detection of a new Covid-19 variant could affect the Flames’ overseas camping.
The Flames are expected to camp in Saudi Arabia mid December to prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon in January.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu said in an interview yesterday: “For now, we are not affected, but with lots of restrictions coming up, it is a real concern because we don’t know the full effect of repercussions.
“It is an emergency, so we do not know what else can surprise us, suffice to say we are watching the situation.”
He said not to be caught off-guard, the association is working on plan B.
Said Nyamilandu: “We are looking at contingency plans to ensure that we are not caught unawares and the contingency plan might entail camping in West Africa.
“These alarm bells have not been mentioned by Saudi Arabia, but we just want to be on guard.
“We are preparing for any eventuality with or without the new variant.”
In an interview, the FAM president said so far they are working based on prior communication from their hosts, Saudi Arabia Football Federation, that the travelling squad should be fully vaccinated.
Football analyst George Kaudza Masina said chances of the restrictions affecting the Flames camping are high.
“Considering the current situation, the chances of the Flames making the trip are slim and FAM should consider stepping up its contingency plans,” he said.
“As it is, it’s 50-50 because everyday there are new restrictions coming up. The Flames could be affected due to flight connections.”
The Saudi Arabia FA has offered to foot all expenses for a delegation of 35, estimated to cost in the excess of $100 000 (about K82.5 million.
So far, countries that have imposed travel bans on Southern African Development Community (Sadc) countries, including Malawi, are United Kingdom, European Union, United States and Australia.
Reacting to the restrictions through acting presidential press secretary Anthony Kasunda on Sunday, President Lazarus Chakwera, speaking in his capacity as Sadc chairperson, condemned the restrictions imposed following the detection of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) in Botswana and South Africa.