Malawi/Cote d'Ivoire: Malawi Govt. Has No Money for Flames - Ivory Coast World Cup Qualifiers Encounters

15 September 2021

The Government of Malawi says its coffers are dry to make available for the country's national football team, the Flames scheduled to battle it out against one of Africa's footballing powerhouse, the Elephants, Ivory Coast for next month's back-to-back 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

Line ministry responsible for football affairs, Ministry of Youth and Sports says at the moment it is difficult and almost impossible to negotiate for Flames' extra funding for next month's against Ivory Coast also known as Côte d'Ivoire.

The Flames is expected to host the Elephants on October 8 at home in South Africa with the return leg slated for four days later in Abidjan and FAM say they require a whooping K200 million for the two fixtures.

Sports and Youth ministry director of sports Jameson Ndalama said this in response to a Football Association of Malawi (FAM) statement which outlined that the team's continued participation in the qualifiers hinges on the availability of funds, having exhausted its K200 million for the current financial year.

Ndalama said: "The situation is critical and difficult as it stands as FAM has indicated that they require an extra funding in the range of K200 million, which is tough and very difficult to solicit because of the budget we are using now.

"So, now we are waiting to hear from the Ministry of Finance to advise us on the way forward. Until then, we have no money for the Ivory Coast fixture and that is the position."

FAM president Walter Nyamilandu Wednesday in an interview said their hopes rest with government bailing out the Flames, failing which the Flames will have to withdraw from the tournament.

He said: "Such undesirable outcome will lead to CAF/Fifa imposing sanctions on Malawi which could affect our participation in the Africa Cup of Nations [Afcon] finals as per Article (5) of the regulations.

"We have no any other option apart from pursuing supplementary funding, having exhausted all sources of funding."

However, the former Wanderers and Flames towering defender, Nyamilandu emphasized that the Flames deserve the support of the nation, having demonstrated lately excellent performance by qualifying for Afcon finals and pleaded with well-wishers and especially the corporate world to come to the rescue.

"It will be a missed opportunity if we are forced to withdraw from the World Cup because the consequences will be severe," said Nyamilandu.

Part of Article 5 (2) of the regulations states: "Any association that withdraws after the start of the preliminary competition will be sanctioned with a fine of at least 40 000 Swiss francs [$43 402.92] which translates to K35.6 million."

FAM suffered a K100 million cut in its annual government subvention for the 2021/22 financial year, having been allocated K200 million following the planned transition to a new financial year cycle starting April 1.

Following the reduction, FAM lodged a complaint with the Malawi National Council of Sports, arguing that the move came when they were facing high demand of national team activities.

Nyamilandu said Sports Council was yet to respond to the complaint and in an interview last week, the council's spokesperson Faith Mtonyo-Mlauzi said they will not comment on the issue "for now".

The Flames are third in their four-team Group D with three points from two matches, having lost their opening match 2-0 to Ivory Coast before edging Mozambique 1-0.Malawi are tied on three points with second-placed Cameroon while Ivory Coast top the group with four points.

Mozambique anchor the group with a point.

The African section of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification acts as qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, to be held in Qatar, for national teams which are members of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

A total of five slots in the final tournament are available for CAF teams to cruise through to the Qatar final showdown next year.

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