The Flames will return to Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on October 16 when they host Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions in a 2019 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier.
Malawi last played at Kamuzu Stadium in 2016 in a 2017 Afcon qualifier against e-Swatini (formerly Swaziland) which they won 1-0.
The Flames then moved to Bingu National Stadium (BNS) in Lilongwe following the closure of the Kamuzu Stadium.
Out of the four matches, the Flames lost to Madagascar in Championship of African Nations (Chan), beat Comoros in a 2019 Afcon qualifier, then posted a win and a loss against Lesotho in international friendly matches.
Though the results have not been impressive at BNS, FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda said the change has nothing to do with the performance of the Flames.
“The change is due to logistics of the game in terms of preparations and hosting the match itself since we are playing Cameroon back-to-back,” he said.
Malawi will play Cameroon away on October 12 before immediately flying back home to host the West Africans just four days later.
Though Kamuzu Stadium reopened last month after renovations, the facility is yet to be certified by Fifa which condemned it due to its poor state.
The stadium’s capacity has also been further reduced to 14 600 from 22 000 on recommendation from the world football governing body.
But Gunda said the stadium is now fit to host a match against the African champions.
He said: “The stadium is capable of hosting a match of such magnitude. The main concern was the artificial turf which has since been replaced.
“The challenge now is how to manage the crowd when hosting a match of such magnitude with the reduced capacity and not the facility itself. But we are confident that we can pull it off.”
Soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda said Malawi has a better chance of stunning the African football giants at Kamuzu Stadium than at BNS.
“Most teams struggle at Kamuzu Stadium’s artificial turf,” he said.
He, however, agreed with Gunda that FAM’s challenge would be crowd control.
“Mind you, this is a high-profile match. Blantyre people have not watched the Flames at Kamuzu Stadium for close to three years.
“Everyone will want to enter the stadium to witness this match. How FAM is going to control not just the 14 000 capacity, but also those that will be outside the stadium, is very crucial to avoid a stampede,” he said.
The Flames are third in Group B which Cameroon, who are the 2019 Afcon hosts, lead with four points while Morocco are second with three points as well. Comoros are at the bottom with a point. n