Former Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary (GS) Charles Nyirenda says he spotted match-fixing agent Wilson Raj Perumal at a hotel where the Flames were accommodated during the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Angola.
However, he claims that he did not suspect anything fishy at that time.
The Singaporean agent, who is serving a prison sentence for his crimes and has become a Fifa witness, is said to have offered cash to former Flames midfielder Hellings Mwakasungula to influence results of the national team’s matches against Algeria, Angola and Mali, according to Fifa.
Mwakasungula, who denied any wrongdoing, has been slapped with a life ban after he decided not to respond to the accusation levelled against him by Fifa Integrity Department.
Nyirenda, who was FAM GS at the time, says he first saw the agent during the Flames home 2010 Afcon qualifier against Guinea at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
“I noticed the man, but I didn’t want to have anything to do with him because even when he came to Malawi for the Guinea match, I didn’t want to stay long with him. By then, I was already aware of match fixers and their agents. So, I thought of keeping my distance from him,” he said.
Asked if seeing the agent again in Angola was not enough reason to raise an alarm, Nyirenda said he had faith in the players that they could not betray their country.
“Of course, seeing him at our hotel was a surprise, but because there were other guests at the place apart from ourselves, I just felt he had come to watch the Afcon matches.
“I had faith in the team manager who was responsible for the goings-on regarding the players. I hardly suspected that anything sinister could take place at that hotel,” said Nyirenda.
Player agent Felix Ngamanya Sapao, who was also in Angola during the 2010 Afcon, also recalled seeing the match-fixing agent in Angola.
“I found Perumal in the hotel and I immediately alerted [FAM president] Walter Nyamilandu and the coaching staff. Perumal disappeared at that point,” he said.
Apart from Mwakasungla, the Fifa disciplinary committee has found eight individuals—eight players/former players as well as one players’ agent—guilty of having been involved in match manipulation in violation of Article 69 of the Fifa disciplinary code on unlawfully influencing of match results.
They have been banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at both national and international levels whether administrative, sports or any other for life.
Perumal is said to have attempted to manipulate several matches for betting purposes.
FAM is yet to comment the match-fixing scandal, saying it can only do so after 10 days given to Mwakasungula and the others to appeal the verdict.