“We also hope that, by September, all our players will be in good shape and fit for the qualifiers.”
The Malawi Flames will have to wait until September to start playing football again in the African Cup of nations competition.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) in consultation with world football governing body Fifa, has postponed World Cup qualifiers for Africa, giving time to 10 countries including Malawi whose match venues were banned from hosting international matches.
The African Football umbrella body, CAF announced Thursday changes in the schedule of the qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, taking into account the epidemiological situation due to COVID-19.
Initially, the qualifiers were due to take place in June but CAF and FIFA have decided to push the qualifier matches, which will now kick-off in September.
“CAF is reassessing its protocols and processes to enhance the implementation of Covid-related protocols, including specifically focusing on pre-match testing which had been the source of some challenges in previous windows,” the confederation said.
FIFA released a statement to confirm the joint decision with CAF, saying that the measure seeks to ensure optimal playing conditions for all teams.
The qualifiers were due to be played next month with 10 national teams, including Malawi, running the risk of playing home matches in other countries.
The Flames were due to face Cameroon away between June 5 and 8 before hosting Mozambique between June 11 and 14, 2021.
However, the qualifiers are now scheduled to take place in the existing windows of September, October and November 2021, and March 2022,” FIFA added.
Previously, CAF postponed several qualifier matches for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and 2020 World Cup qualifiers due to the pandemic.
CAF’s Emergency Committee in consultation with world football governing body Fifa, has postponed World Cup qualifiers for Africa, giving time to 10 countries whose match venues were banned from hosting international matches.
‘Blessing in disguise’
The postponement is a timely relief for Football Association of Malawi (FAM) whose preferred home-ground Kamuzu Stadium was declared unfit by the Confederation of African Football and this compelled FAM to start exploring other options including returning to Bingu National Stadium (BNS) and playing matches in Zambia.
General secretary for the country’s football governing body Alfred Gunda said: “We will continue working hand-in-would with the Ministry of Youth and Sports as owners of BNS and Kamuzu Stadium to ensure that everything is running smoothly but also to cement our cordial friendship and relationship.”
“The development comes at a critical time of planning. As Fam, we have noted that CAF is evaluating continental as well as global trends of the behaviour of coronavirus.
“This to us is just a deferment which gives us an opportunity to continue preparing technically as well as for stadia work to be done to reach desired levels of improvement,” Gunda said.
Malawi are in Group B of the qualifiers alongside Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Mozambique.
Flames coach Meck Mwase in an interview Friday said: “I strongly believe that everything that happens, happens for a reason. It might be for a good or bad reason, but we accept the situation on the ground. We also hope that, by September, all our players will be in good shape and fit for the qualifiers,” Mwase said.
The Flames were due to host Ivory Coast in September before travelling to the West African nation between September 5 and 8.
Malawi would then host Cameroon between October 6 and 9.
Malawi were scheduled to wrap up the World Cup qualifiers with an away fixture against Mozambique between October 10 and 12.
The postponement means the qualifiers will be completed in March next year.
Football analyst George Kaudza-Masina said the development was a blessing in disguise.
said Kaudza Masina: “The development may look bad but looking at a bigger picture, this is, in fact, a blessing in disguise as the postponement will help the Flames to have thorough and quality preparations for the games.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :