Despite growing xenophobic attacks in South Africa, government has nodded to the Flames’ participation in next month’s 2015 Cosafa Cup.
“The team will go to Cosafa. The tournament is not about South Africa alone. We are trying to solve the problem diplomatically through contact and dialogue. The President [Peter Mutharika] has issued a statement and the same is the case with South Africa President Jacob Zuma,” Nankhumwa said.
However, Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) members are divided on whether to boycott the regional competition. Flames face Mozambique in the quarter-final stage on May 24.
FAM chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda yesterday condemned the attacks that have left at least 3 200 Malawians destitute. Some are being rescued back home.
“In solidarity with all the countries in the region, the Malawi national football team will take part in the 2015 edition of Cosafa Cup. It is our belief that the competition will be used as a tool of peace and heal the wounds of recent xenophobic attacks. Cosafa has been assured of safety for all participating teams,” Nyirenda explained.
However,former Flames’ goalkeeper Swadick Sanudi, who experienced the brutal side to South Africa life after being stabbed 14 times at an ATM in Johannesburg around 2005, insists the Flames must not risk travelling to the Rainbow Nation.
“If your brother was one of the affected; being burnt to death, would you allow to befriend that nation? The problem with Malawians is that we think about our pockets only. It’s better to tell them: ‘sorry we are not coming. Change the venue to another country,’ said Sanudi, who played for South African clubs such as Dynamos.
Elsewhere, Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela says the Warriors should still travel to South Africa.
“The Zimbabwe Football Association would like to inform the football fraternity and the nation at large that Zimbabwe will not boycott the 2015 Cosafa Tournament to be hosted by South Africa. The association takes great exception to the nefarious xenophobic violence and we condemn these brutal acts with the contempt they deserve,” Gwesela told Zifa website.
Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) will also be represented at Cosafa cup through Taifa Stars as guest participants.
In view of this, TFF president Jamal Malinzi has written to Cosafa president Seketu Patel condemning the attacks.
Cosafa chief operating officer Sue Destombes said the attacks on foreigners were a political issue, adding: “It’s happening [in the country to host the] Cosafa Cup 2015, yes, and a month away, but it’s nowhere near where the tournament will be held.”