Football Association of Malawi (FAM) will spend an additional K21 million on air tickets and external allowances when the Flames host Mozambique in Johannesburg, South Africa in a 2022 World Cup qualifier next month.
This comes in the wake of Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) rejection of Bingu National Stadium (BNS) in Lilongwe following government and FAM’s failure to rehabilitate the pitch to the expected standards.
Malawi is among eight African countries that have been stripped of home advantage in next month’s World Cup qualifiers after their venues failed to make the grade following an inspection by a team from CAF.
A return air ticket to Johannesburg costs $645.56 (about K530 000), according to Malawian Airlines spokesperson Joseph Josiah.
This means that for a delegation of 27 it would cost about K14 310 000.
In addition, Flames players and officials get $100 (about K82 100) each in external allowances per night and three nights for a delegation of 27 translates to K6 650 100, excluding food, accommodation and other logistics.
On the other hand, if Malawi had hosted Mozambique at BNS, it would have cost FAM K3 180 000 in air tickets for six players based in South Africa. FAM could also have saved on external allowances.
Should the ban on BNS extend beyond the Mozambique match, the amount could double or even triple as the Flames would also have to host Ivory Coast’s Elephants and Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions in South Africa.
But FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said they are optimistic that the other two home matches will be played at BNS.
He said: “CAF are sending experts at the end of this month to help us work on the field so that it can be ready for the next match in October.
“So, we have a chance of hosting the other matches at BNS if the pitch is well attended to. This will be our last chance to redeem ourselves. It is giving us a glimmer of hope that BNS will be back soon.”
In an interview, FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda said they are still working on logistics to see how much it will cost to play their home game in South Africa.
He said: “Initially we submitted a K1.3 billion budget for both Afcon [Africa Cup of Nations] finals and 2022 World Cup qualifiers’ engagements. But that was before the new developments where we are going to be playing home games away in South Africa.
“Now we have to factor in this new arrangement. But we are consulting and negotiating with our counterparts in South Africa on accommodation and other arrangements. So, I can’t say how much we will spend.”
However, Minister of Youth and Sports Ulemu Msungama said government will support FAM’s budget for the Flames.
“This [the new development] is something we never anticipated, so we will liaise with FAM through Sports Council to see how we can assist.
“But as earlier stated, government is committed towards the Flames’ cause; hence, the special request we made to the Treasury for K700 million towards Afcon and World Cup engagements,” he said.
The minister said the funding, if approved, would not be part of the annual allocation which FAM gets from government through Malawi National Council of Sports for Malawi national football team programmes.