Football supporters have welcomed Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 directive that the Flames participate in Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and Fifa World Cup qualifiers under strict conditions, including playing the matches without fans.
This follows a meeting between Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 and Ministry of Youth and Sports officials yesterday in Lilongwe.
However, the task force will review the resumption of TNM Super League and other games issue to be relooked into during the next on Thursday next week.
Government’s decision comes just a day after supporters across the country were organising demonstrations against the ban on football.
One of the organisers of the demonstrations, Silver Strikers supporters chairperson Kingsley Malaya welcomed the return of football without supporters.
He said: “As one of the organisers of the planned demonstrations, let me say that we welcome the decision that supporters should not be allowed. What we wanted was for football to resume. Our concern was on the welfare of players.”
Blantyre-based Be Forward Wanderers staunch supporter, Yona malunga, who has also been campaigning for the return of football, also welcomed the restriction on supporters.
He said: “We don’t have any problem with that. Once football starts, we can watch the matches on television. The fight for football to resume was for the players who have been suffering due to the economic impact of not playing football. Our national team can now start preparing for the Afcon and Fifa World Cup qualifiers.”
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu applauded government for the decision.
On playing without supporters Nyamilandu said: “It’s the first step to get started. We will warmly seize the opportunity to restart football.
“At least for now, we are assured that training will commence with earnest. The rest will follow as the situation is being reviewed periodically.
“Half a loaf is better than nothing. This is good enough to get started. We will deal with how to overcome the challenges later,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Flames will go into camp this weekend. However, Mozambique-based Flames players, including captain John ‘CJ’ Banda, who were back home following a lockdown in Mozambique due to Covid-19, have been recalled by their clubs.
This means the players will not be available for pending national team camp in preparation from the Cosafa Cup to be held in South Africa next month.
Banda confirmed been recalled after the country eased on lockdown to allow clubs to start training in preparation for competitions.
He said: “The players got tested 10 days ago and training was supposed to start yesterday,” he said.