- ‘We don’t want to make false promises’
Youth Development and Sports Minister Grace Chiumia has pledged government’s support to Big Bullets’ participation in the 2015 CAF Champions League, but fell short of being specific, saying they are yet to discuss the matter.
“With the economic situation we are in, we do not want to be specific as we have not sat down, so we do not want to make false promises. Let us all, including those from other teams, support them. My advice to Bullets is that learn from others when participating in this competition,” said Chiumia.
Weekend Nation had asked the minister how government intends to support Bullets whose consultant coach Nsanzurwimo Ramadhan pleaded for the whole country to put aside club allegiances and throw their weight behind the TNM Super League champions who face Comoros giants Fomboni Club de Moheil in February’s preliminary round matches.
“My message is not only to the BB family because in CAF, we will be representing the country. I wish everybody, I mean sponsors, government and well-wishers to help the team for good preparations,” said Ramadhan, speaking for the first time from his base in South Africa after last Monday’s draw.
Ramadhan stressed that thorough preparations would be crucial over the two legs against the newly crowned Comoros champions whose squad includes ex-Mighty Wanderers striker Wister Phiri and players from Madagascar.
“I can answer you when I start the preparations! You know CAF is about preparations. Every game will not be easy; we will be meeting champions of every country. The worst part of it is that we do not know [the style of play] the opponent from Comoros. But it is a good draw, starting away will make a difference,” Ramadhan said from Durban.
Bullets’ 2004 CAF league engagement was marked by massive support from the then sponsor and president Bakili Muluzi who used to pay air fares for fans during away games and also made home games free of charge. The team camped and trained in the United Kingdom before eventually reaching the competition’s group stages.
The first game is away on the weekend of February 13 2014 with reports pegging air fares alone at K20 million. Roughly, Bullets estimate that the whole campaign will cost K180 million.
Even Flames nearly withdrew from the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers due to shortage of funds after FAM had exhausted its K70 million annual grant from government.
However, Bullets chairperson Kondie Msungama insists that their domestic success would appeal to companies. He wants government to consider revising gate collections sharing structure to empower teams.
On their part, Super League of Malawi president Innocent Bottoman said they would support Bullets by ensuring that they sign players targeted to beef up their squad, “of course, as long as they follow the laid down procedures when approaching and signing the players from other teams.” n