FAM wants Confederation of African Football (CAF) to intervene after the Flames’ 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Group B opponents Burkina Faso chose March 28 for the first leg of the qualifier to be played in the West African country’s capital Ouagadougou.
The development means Malawi has March 31 as the only option for the second leg to be played at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre since the Fifa international window starts from March 21 and wraps up on March 31.
The Flames trips to West Africa usually take two days due to tight flight connections and Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary Alfred Gunda has said it will be impossible for the game to be played on March 31, and hoped that Burkina Faso shifts the first leg to an earlier date.
He said: “As the hosts for the first leg, Burkina Faso were given between March 25 and 29 while we were given between March 29 and 31. Unfortunately, our counterparts have deliberately picked March 28 for the first leg which means we can only have the second leg played on March 31 since Fifa rules and regulations provide for a 48-hour break in between matches.
“But it is impossible for us to play the first leg in Ouagadougou on March 28 and return home in time for the second leg on March 31. We use a commercial flight which takes us at least two days to travel from West Africa to Blantyre. Our counterparts on the other hand, are relying on a chartered flight which will fly directly to Malawi soon after the first leg in Ouagadougou.”
Gunda said since chartering a flight is out of the question due to financial constraints, FAM is banking on CAF to intervene after failing to convince Burkina Faso FA to reconsider their decision.
“We have tried to reason with them, but to no avail. Of course, they are within the dates they were provided for, but we hope CAF can step in and convince them to change the date,” he said.
Flames coach Meck Mwase said his players will be affected since there will be no time to recover after the first leg and the two-day long trip back home.
“Let’s hope something will come up; otherwise, it is going to take a toll on the players and eventually affect their performance in the second leg,” he said.
Soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda said the technical panel can use modern methods of recovery if CAF fails to convince Burkina Faso to change the date for the first leg.
“Let’s face it, Burkina Faso haven’t broken any regulation. This is just a tactic most teams use in back-to-back fixtures. I doubt if CAF will convince them to change at all. So, let the coaches prepare for what is coming. Traditionally, ice baths help to accelerate recovery of athletes. The players can also use lots of sleep to rest. Diet is also important so that the players can replenish lost energy,” he said.
The Flames are on position three in Group B with three points while second-placed Burkina Faso are tied at four points with leaders Uganda. Bottom-placed South Sudan have no point. Meanwhile, the Flames started regional non-residential camp on Monday.