Flames will play their Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) matches in Cameroon from January 10 without the 12th player after some fans, who planned to make the trip, failed to raise K15 million to cheer on the team.
In an interview yesterday, Malawi National Football Team interim supporters committee chairperson Yona Malunga admitted that their fundraising drive flopped.
He said: “We knocked on every door asking for financial support, but things didn’t work out.
“In fact, some people of goodwill helped us in coming up with good fundraising proposals, but nothing materialised.
“We only got a pledge from one of the commercial banks that they would consider buying us two air tickets, but what difference would two supporters make at big event such as Afcon other than sight- seeing?”
The flamboyant fan said Football Association of Malawi (FAM), in particular its president Walter Nyamilandu, tried to support the initiative, but they could not make any headway.
Said Malunga: “The worst we had planned was to send at least seven vocal and drum-beating fans to cheer our boys in Cameroon, but things just didn’t work out as anticipated.
“It’s sad that our boys will head to Cameroon without the 12th player who would have made a difference in Cameroon, but all the same we wish our team all the best.”
Flames captain Limbikani Mzava said in an interview yesterday that it is unfortunate that the fans’ trip has failed.
He said: “When you are playing at such a grand stage and you hear some noise of your fans rallying behind you, it gives you encouragement. So, it is really unfortunate.
“If the tournament was played in southern or eastern Africa, I am sure we would have had fans coming to cheer us on, but West Africa is far.
“Nevertheless, we will still fight for the cause of our nation knowing that the whole nation will be behind us.”
Nyamilandu yesterday said they would have loved the fans to accompany the Flames.
“Unfortunately, it has proved difficult for them to raise funds.
“Their vocal and moral support will be missed as they always lift up the spirits of the players. The presence of our fans would have made the players to feel at home knowing that they have local support around them.
“Most teams from West Africa such as Senegal and Guinea from our Group will have this added advantage because their supporters will come to cheer them on.
Football analyst George Kaudza Masina said: “That player number 12 will be absent in Cameroon, is unfortunate. Malawi might be the only team without a formal contingent of supporters at the tournament.
“Taking into account the role supporters play at such competitions, FAM could have found a way to take some supporters to Cameroon to cheer the Flames.”