Cosafa has disclosed that due to the closure of Kamuzu Stadium, Malawi has been stripped of the right to host the Cosafa Senior Challenge Cup slated for May next year.
Both Council of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) chief operations officer (COO) Sue Destombes and FAM president Walter Nyamilandu confirmed the development on Wednesday.
The Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and government had already committed to hosting the 13-member regional showpiece, but the Cosafa COO said from South Africa on Wednesday the closure of the ailing facility has led to change of plans.
“We have information to the effect that the Kamuzu Stadium has been closed for renovations and, therefore, it renders the chances of staging the tournament in Malawi null and void,” said Destombes.
She also disclosed that the tournament has since been shifted to Zambia.
Destombes also said apart from the stadium issue, FAM and government had also not committed on whether MBC TV would be able to acquire the necessary equipment needed to beam the tournament in this part of the region.
She also said Cosafa are in the process of finalising sponsorship agreement with a prospective sponsor.
Nyamilandu, who is also a Cosafa executive member, described the development as a setback as Malawi stood to gain in terms of exposure and tourism.
“As a country, would have also gained in terms entertainment for the fans and forex.
“But considering the circumstances, we had no choice because the tournament is supposed be held in two major cities,” said Nyamilandu.
However, Nyamilandu claimed that Malawi is one of the countries on the waiting list to host the competition in the event that Zambia is not ready.
“If the stadium would be ready by that time, then we could be considered, but that would be in the event that Zambia are not ready,” he said.
Youth and Sports Minister Enoch Chihana described the development as a blessing in disguise as the tournament was not budgeted for.
“Of course, as government, we made a commitment to host the tournament, but it would have still been difficult because it was not budgeted for.
“We needed about K150 million [about $500 000] to host the actual tournament and besides that, MBC TV still does not have the necessary broadcasting equipment which costs around R4 million [about K160 million]. So, the estimated cost of hosting the event would have been about K310 million [about $1.03m],” said the minister.
However, Chihana said the development will give both government and FAM ample time to prepare to host the 2014 tournament.
Government already took the first step by engaging TransAfrica Media of South Africa in consultancy work towards staging the tournament.
Before Castle Lager withdrew its multimillion rand sponsorship, the Cosafa Senior Challenge Cup was once considered the best competition of its kind on the continent.
Over the years, it helped provide the platform for players to showcase their talents to a wider audience.