Malawi’s Youth and Sports Minister Enoch Chihana has disclosed that it is becoming difficult to convince Treasury to release supplementary funding for the Flames due to the team’s poor performance.
Chihana was responding to a question on whether there are any developments as regards to Football Association of Malawi’s request for supplementary funding to meet Flames’ forthcoming 2014 World Cup engagements.
The Flames are scheduled to face Namibia’s Brave Warriors in a World Cup qualifier in March and before that, they are supposed to play an international friendly match on February 6 which is a Fifa date.
“We are aware that FAM exhausted its allocation for the national team and they submitted a request for supplementary funding. But the challenge is that each game for the Flames costs between K20 million (about $58 800) and K30 million (about $88 200) and it is always a big fight to convince Treasury to release supplementary funding due to the team’s continued poor performance.
“They [Treasury] argue that what is the point of giving extra funding to a team that is not performing well. With the Queens, it is easy, but with the Flames it has become an uphill battle especially during the current tough economic times,” said Chihana.
He said it is with that in mind that government would like all stakeholders to have a critical review on the performance of the Flames in due course.
“Officials from my ministry, Sports Council and FAM will be meeting in due course to critically review the situation,” he said.
However, responding to Chihana’s claims, Treasury spokesperson Nations Msowoya said they are will always be willing to provide extra funding as long as there is justification.
“As long as they [Ministry of Youth and Sports] convince us [that] there is value in funding the team.
“There is need for justifications and deliverables. So, the ball is really in their court,” said Msowoya.
He also said Treasury will be reviewing applications for supplementary fundings at the end of this month.
The Flames won only four of their 16 games last year and slumped to position 111 on Fifa rankings.
Flames coach Kinnah Phiri has proposed two international friendly matches to tune up for the next 2014 World Cup qualifier against Namibia.
He said the choice of teams will be determined after consulting the Football Association of Malawi (FAM).
“I have proposed to FAM that we need to play two international friendly matches, but the determination of the teams will be made upon thorough consultation with the secretariat as well as the technical subcommittee because it will depend on funding,” said Kinnah.
He said his wish is that Flames should play the first match on February 6, which is a Fifa date, and another one at the end of February.
“I am looking at taking advantage of the presence of South Africa-based players to feature in both games,” he said.
However, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said he can only guarantee the match on the Fifa date.
“That is the only friendly match that I can see government supporting, but even for that game, it will depend on whether we will be able to get extra funding and then we can plan,” said Nyamilandu.
The FAM president also said he believes that the Flames still have a good chance of qualifying for the final phase of the 2014 World Cup qualification if they can do well in their remaining four games.