Football Association of Malawi (FAM) wants Parliament, which reconvenes on September 24 to scrutinise the 2019 National Budget, to approve its K1.4 billion budget in full following Malawi’s qualification to the 2022 World Cup second-round group stage.
The Flames made it to the group stage after a 1-0 aggregate win over Botswana on Tuesday at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre to join 13 other winners from the preliminary round alongside 26 seeded teams in the group stage (second round).
The 40 teams will be divided into 10 equal groups and the Flames will play six games—three home and three others away—in this stage.
The World Cup qualifiers will also be played concurrently with 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers, in which the Flames are in Group B, making it 12 games in total set to kick off in November.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said the Flames qualification justifies the association’s budget presented to Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture through Malawi National Council of Sports.
“The players have spoken loud and clear that they are ready for the bigger stage. We have to reciprocate accordingly to match our aspirations as a country,” he said.
FAM’s budget usually hovers around K1.4 billion but it is often cut to K500 million.
Nyamilandu said government should invest in the Flames if the team is to do well in the two competitions.
“Success comes at a price. This kind of a budget is the benchmark for the Flames. It’s for basic necessities and there are no frills,” he said.
“We have to cope with such kind to investment as a country, otherwise, we will continue to lag behind and not be achievers in this highly competitive industry.”
Flames coach MekeMwase also echoed Nyamilandu’s sentiments, saying the team needs full support from government as he aims for Afcon qualification and World Cup third round.
“To succeed in football, you need money. Without money we cannot do well. We have all seen that we have a good team. All that is remaining is for government and FAM to give us the support we need.
“Qualifying for the group stage [second round] is just the first step as we aim for the third round. But we will need maximum support to achieve this. We need to prepare well for the games to come as we will also be aiming at qualifying for the Afcon final,” he said.
Sports Council acting executive secretary Henry Mereka said government will ensure that the Flames get full support.
He said: “Government has always supported the Flames through and through. We do not support the team to lose. We support them to win and we are happy that they have qualified for the World Cup group stages.
“We are aware of government’s responsibility. We know that now that they have qualified for the group stages, they will be playing in both Afcon and World Cup, both home and away which requires more finances and we will ensure that the funding is available.”
The last time Malawi made it this far was in 2007 during the joint 2010 South Africa World Cup and Afcon qualification.
The Flames start the Afcon campaign in first round group stage and are in the same group with Uganda, Burkina Faso and the preliminary round winner between South Sudan and Seychelles.