Football Association of Malawi (FAM) was yesterday thrown on the horns of dilemma after a new funeral programme for Under-20 national football team striker Abel Mwakilama clashed with the team’s international friendly match against Zambia tomorrow.
Malawi Under-20 national team, who are preparing for Under-20 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Angola, play the junior Chipolopolo at Bingu National Stadium as an Airtel Top 8 quarter-final curtain-raiser.
Initially, the burial for the late Mwakilama was set to take place on Sunday in Karonga, however, the family has changed the programme to Saturday. The remains of Mwakilama will arrive this afternoon.
“Burial for the late Abel Mwakilama will now take place on Saturday and not Sunday as earlier announced. This means the body will go straight to Karonga and not Chitipa,” the statement reads.
FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda confirmed the development, saying the situation places the association between a rock and hard place since his teammates, who were expected to attend the funeral, are playing Zambia on the same day.
“We are now in a difficult situation because it’s impossible to cancel the match. All arrangements for the international friendly are complete. Zambia is already on its way from Lusaka by road. Their [Zambia’s] programme is that on Sunday they will fly out through Kamuzu International Airport to Rwanda for their Under-20 African Cup of Nations qualifier,” he said.
Gunda said the association would meet to make a decision today.
“We should be able to come up with a solution by tomorrow [Friday]. But obviously, some of his teammates, officials and members of the technical panel will have to attend the funeral at all cost,” he said.
The late Mwakilama, who played for Portuguese fourth-tier league club Sporting Clube de Esmoriz, died two weeks ago in Portugal after succumbing to cerebral malaria.
The former Chitipa United striker is suspected to have contracted the desease when he came for Under-20 national team’s first leg against Swaziland.
The player flew from Portugal and joined the national team before flying back to Portugal.
FAM was in the process of getting his club’s clearance for the player to join the national team for the second leg when he fell ill and died within two days. n