Flames caretaker coaching panel has proposed to Football Association of Malawi (FAM) that the forthcoming 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Namibia and Kenya should be staged at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre and not at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe.
The development is despite CAF’s recent move to remove the facility from its list of suitable sports venues for international games because some of the stands are in need of major renovations.
Coach Eddington Ng’onamo justified the move, saying in the recent past, the Flames have performed better at Kamuzu Stadium than elsewhere.
“Our view is that we stand a better chance of doing well playing at Kamuzu Stadium than elsewhere based on the team’s recent performance and we have since recommended to FAM that we should play our remaining World Cup home matches in Blantyre.
“Based on the records of the recent games, the Flames have done well at Kamuzu Stadium because the players are used to the artificial surface compared to our opponents who struggle to play there and, therefore, it could give us a slight advantage.
“We have since recommended to FAM that we should play the games in Blantyre. Our view is that we can still play there since the affected parts were cordoned off,” said Ng’onamo.
He added: “It was also evident that the team struggled to play their normal game against Ghana during the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations final qualification game. The proposal has been made having considered the technical aspects.”
Apparently, prior to the Flames game against Ghana in Lilongwe, Ng’onamo’s predecessor Kinnah Phiri also wanted the Flames to play at Kamuzu Stadium.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu confirmed the development, saying the association will take up the matter with world football governing body Fifa.
“Indeed the technical panel has recommended that they feel we stand a better chance of winning our next two home matches against Namibia and Kenya if we play at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre,” said Nyamilandu.
Asked if that would be possible considering CAF’s recent move, Nyamilandu said: “World Cup games are under the obligation of Fifa and we will henceforth advise them of our plans, bearing in mind that the stands at the [Kamuzu] stadium were cordoned off as a precautionary measure.”
Nyamilandu also said once approved, measures will have to be put in place to control the numbers so that the crowd does not exceed the revised capacity as advised and agreed with Fifa.
Kamuzu Stadium manager Charles Mhango also said having cordoned off the stands that are in bad shape, the stadium can host international games.
“There would be no problem to host international games at the stadium because the areas that were deemed to be insecure by structural engineers were cordoned off.
“We just have to put measures in place to control the numbers so that the crowd should not exceed the revised capacity,” said Mhango.
He said following the cardoning off of the affected areas, the stadium has a sitting capacity of 17 500.
“But it can still take up to 20 000 fans,” he said.
The capacity of Civo Stadium is estimated to be between 17 000 and 20 000.
Since 2008, the Flames have played 15 games at Kamuzu Stadium where they have won 11, drawn twice and lost twice.
The Flames have beaten Egypt, Djibouti, DR Congo, Guinea, Rwanda [twice], Mozambique, Togo, Chad [twice] and Zambia. They drew against Cote d’ Ivoire and Tunisia and lost to Burkina Faso and Angola.