Nyasa Big Bullets gangly Nigerian forward Babatunde Adepoju could feature for the Flames at the Cameroon Afcon finals should his Malawi citizenship application succeeds.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and the player’s local representative confirmed that the red-hot forward’s citizenship application is being processed with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said in an interview yesterday that Romanian technical director (TD) Marian Mario Marinica recommeded that the 27-year-old forward be drafted into the squad after being impressed with his performance in the recent Blantyre derby Airtel Top 8 semi-final between Bullets and their bitter rivals Mighty Wanderers at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
The People’s Team won the match 4-1 and Babatunde scored all the goals for Bullets against his former club.
Said Nyamilandu: “Yes, we are facilitating his citizenship application with the Department of Immigration.
“The TD expressed interest for him to join the squad after being impressed with his performance during the derby.
“He will need to be assessed in Saudi Arabia if he is cleared in good time.”
Weekend Nation, has however, established that before the TD recommended the player’s inclusion, it was Babatunde who took the first step by expressing his interest to play for Malawi through his local manager, but there was no concrete response until Marinica came into the picture.
The player’s representative confirmed that while the preliminary process started last week, there is nothing concrete yet.
He said: “Before we submit the application for citizenship, we are supposed to submit some supporting documents and that is what is being worked on now.
“But there has not been much progressyet. We hope FAM and government will help us fasttrack the process,” said the representative, who asked not to be named.
However, Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services spokesperson Wellingtone Chiponde yesterday said under Section 13 of the Citizenship Act of the Laws of Malawi, a person from a Commonwealth country may be registered as a citizen of Malawi upon meeting some conditions.
He said: “The person should be ordinarily resident in Malawi, and should have been a resident for a period of five years; should have adequate knowledge of at least one of the prescribed vernacular languages or the English language.
He also said the person is required to be of good character, without any criminal record and that the person should be a suitable citizen of Malawi.”
Babatunde has enjoyed a rich vein of form this season with Bullets and inspired them to win the Airtel Top 8 in which he emerged the golden boot winner with eight goals.
He scored in all the three matches that he played.
Three years ago, the former Wanderers and Masters Security striker also expressed interest to play for the Flames.
“In such a case, all of Zimbabwean football would suffer the consequences, especially on the eve of the Africa Cup of Nations.
“It is up to Fifa alone to remove executive bodies of member associations and appoint normalisation committees.”
Last month, football’s world governing body appointed normalisation committees to run football in Chad and Guinea.
A statement from Zifa board on Tuesday said it had forwarded Fifa’s correspondence to the SRC.
Meanwhile, despite the cloud of uncertainty, News Day reports that Warriors players started trooping into camp on Thursday in preparation for the tournament.
Zimbabwe team general manager Wellington Mpandare was quoted as having said that all 10-local-based players checked in at a hotel and would undergo routine Covid-19 tests ahead of the beginning of training on Sunday.