Malawi national team on Sunday returned to a heroes’ welcome in the commercial capital, Blantyre as hundreds assembled at Chileka Airport .
The supporters went wild when the players disemberaked the Malawian Airways with their Cosafa Plate which they won after beating Zambia in the finals on Friday after failing to clinch the main tournament Cosafa Castle Cup.
The crowds had jammed the airport and lined up along the roads to to catch a glimpse of the players and Cosafa Plate.
The supporters led by veteran top fan Ralphael Nasimba cheered when the Malawian Airlines touched down at 14:30 with captain Lucky Malata being the first to disembark from the plane carrying the glittering trophy.
Among high profile people that welcomed Malawi’s players nicknamed the Flames at the airport included Blantyre Mayor Noel Chalamanda, Carlsberg Senior Brands Manager Twikale Chirwa, who are also sponsors for the Flames, from Football Association of Malawi there was Moses Mkandawire, Flora Mwandira and Casper Jangale.
The team was driven from Chileka International Airport to Chiwembe technical centre via the following route: Chileka to Chirimba- Mbayani via Kameza round-about. Kandodo corner-shop, Round-About, HHI – Ndirande Shoprite – Chitawira – Nancholi Stella Marris – Zingwangwa – Kudya Nkolokosa – Chinyonga- Limbe- Chiwembe in a convoy.
Upon arrival at the Chiwembe , a news conference was held together with Carlsberg Malawi – ‘The Official Sponsor’.
The first to speak was Flames skipper Lucky Malata who expressed satisfaction with the COSAFA trip though the team fell short of lifting the COSAFA Cup.
“We did not want to come home empty-handed and brought this Cosafa Plate,” he said.
Malata said there are “good lessons” the team has learnt from their outing, good experiences which he hoped would help them improve on their game more especially as the 2017 AFCON qualifiers commences soon.
Head Coach Young Chimodzi was happy with the boys’ performance, most of them coming of age and surpassing expectations.
He said Cosafa was a good learning experience for his team in preparation for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers.
“This tournament has given us a good platform to prepare for the Afcon,” Chmodzi said.
“This will give us a boost in preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. There many positives we have learnt from the tournament,” Chimodzi said.
Chimodzi has to overcome Guinea, Zimbabwe and Swaziland in the Afcon qualifiers that start next month. The Flames can only guarantee a place at the Afcon finals for the third time in their history if they finish top of Group L.
On behalf of Carlsberg Malawi Ltd, Senior Brands Manager for Alcoholics Twikale Chirwa expressed the sponsor’s delight to the ambitious project that started last year through a 3-year sponsorship deal for the Flames.
“You went with admirable humility, competed with hearty, unity and patriotism and accounted for every drop of your sweat. The result of your hard work is the trophy which you have brought to your motherland for the first time,” said Chirwa
Taking his turn, FAM vice president Moses Mkandawire (speaking on behalf of FAM President Walter Nyamilandu who has gone to Zurich where Fifa elected Sepp Blatter as president) expressed the FA’s delight for the COSAFA Plate which the boys managed to bring home.
He stressed on the significance of this victory bearing in mind that the last time the team won silverware was in 1988.
It is a legacy that will live for years to come.
Meanwhile, the Flames resume full camp on Monday, 1st June 2015 in preparation for the AFCON qualifier match against Zimbabwe at Kamuzu Stadium on 13th June 2015.
Meanwhile, BBC Sport report that Namibia won the Cosafa Cup for for the first time in their history, beating Mozambique 2-0 in the final in the South African mining village of Moruleng.
Winger Deon Hotto scored both of Namibia’s goals to steer his nation to victory in the southern African championship.
Namibia completed a gruelling schedule of six games in less than a fortnight on their way to success.
They came through the first round of group matches reserved for the lowest eight ranked teams, including thrashing four-time winners Zimbabwe 4-1 in their last group game.
They then squeezed past holders Zambia on post-match penalties in the quarter-final last Sunday, beating Madagascar 3-2 in Thursday’s semifinal and sealing success with a solid performance against the Mozambicans.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :