Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) has committed to hosting the Flames for their 2022 World Cup qualifiers should CAF not allow Malawi play their games at home.
This follows Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) decision on Monday that the Flames should play their home qualifiers outside the country, saying Kamuzu Stadium, which Football Association of Malawi (FAM) proposed, is not fit to host qualifiers for the global showpiece.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu yesterday said they engaged their Zambian counterparts in case their appeal to use Bingu National Stadium (BNS) does not succeed.
He said: “This is just a contingency plan which has to be formalised with FAZ once we are firm on our next course of action.
“But we remain optimistic that CAF will accept our appeal to use BNS since there is now an assurance from the stadium management that the pitch is being worked on diligently.
“We are also pursuing a waiver to use Kamuzu Stadium subject to necessary renovations being undertaken.”
On the choice of Zambia, the FAM president said: “We suggested Zambia and Zimbabwe because of proximity and that we have many people of Malawian origin in these countries who will support the Flames.”
FAZ president Andrew Kamanga confirmed discussing the issue with Nyamilandu, saying: “Yes. we are brothers and if the need arises, we are ready though we haven’t formalised anything that yet.”
In its letter to FAM, CAF states that since there are no other CAF approved stadiums in the country, the association will have to select approved stadiums in countries of other CAF member associations to host Flames’ matches.
“You are kindly requested to inform CAF of the venue selected abroad for the upcoming qualifiers latest by 7th of May 2021,” reads part of the letter.
CAF further states that if FAM fails to provide the requested information, it will fix the venue in the opponent’s home stadium.
Malawi is among 22 countries whose stadiums have been condemned by CAF.
However, analysts insist that FAM goofed by not including BNS when it proposed Kamuzu Stadium for the qualifiers.
In an interview, George Kaudza Masina said: “Regardless of the condition of BNS at the time of submitting names of stadia, FAM should have still included BNS because it stood a better chance of being approved than the ailing Kamuzu Stadium.
“Unless there is something special that we are ignorant of at Kamuzu Stadium associated with the Flames, time has come to make good use of BNS. Mind you, pitches in themselves cannot win matches.
However, in a statement released yesterday, FAM states that the turning of BNS into a Covid-19 isolation centre earlier this year, hindered its certification exercise, resulting in the stadium not being considered for international matches.
The association said it is surprised that it is being blamed for the idle state of BNS when the stadium hasn’t been in a usable condition since 2020.
It says: “The fact of the matter is that the football pitch has been left to reckless abandon to the extent that even social teams are shunning it.