Mighty Wanderers technical director Yasin Osman, who is the longest serving domestic coach, has said withdrawing the Flames from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) competitions in the near future could be a necessary evil to help inject life in the ailing domestic game.
“I am not saying the Flames should pull out now, but in future that could be necessary. It sounds radical, but truth hurts. We need to get our act together and strengthen our league with a two to three-year programme in which we cannot compete, but concentrate on youth development programmes and just play international friendly games,” Osman said.
He was reacting to FAM’s fear that it might withdraw the Flames from the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations Group B qualifiers over government’s failure to provide K62 million extra budgetary support for the remaining games against Mali and Ethiopia on November 11 and 15 2014 respectively. FAM spends over K200 million annually on the Flames.
“You cannot keep on spending on a competition you know you will not excel in. There is need to call for stakeholders meetings regularly. The other solution lies in the football structures. We have the structures, but we are not using them. There is the FMB youth league, but nobody is monitoring to see how players are doing,” he said.
But Southern Region Football League (SRFL) chairperson Trouble Kalua said withdrawing the Flames over failure to source an equivalent of $120 000 could be a national embarrassment. He called for massive football investment at all levels.
Two Afcon finals appearances, three Cecafa Senior cups and All Africa Games bronze medal are the only Flames’ success stories.
“The current results are irrelevant. They can only get worse if the team does not compete. We would be going back 20 years if in 2014 the Flames were to be unable to play for lack of K60 million,” said the former UFC defender.
Civo United general secretary Rashid Ntelela branded FAM’s struggles to fund the national team as “an art of brinkmanship which will not benefit anyone. What is needed is constructive engagement between FAM and government to find a workable solution in the short term.”
“In the long term, the following are needed: Government budget support based on realistic figures; broadening revenue base, like corporate sponsorship, broadcasting and television rights [international games can rake in a substantial sums of money] just to mention a few; strengthening corporate governance issues at FAM, for example issues of auditing, transparency and accountability; otherwise, the ‘circus’ will continue,” Ntelela explained.