MZUZU--It’s now official. The Malawi national team, the Flames, will next Saturday play host to Africa Cup of Nations reigning champions Zambia’s Copper Bullets aka Chipolopolo as part of Malawi’s 48th Independence Anniversary Celebrations.
Unlike in the past when government spent millions of tax-payers money to organise independence anniversary celebrations at national, regional and district levels, this year the Joyce Banda administration announced that the day will be marked with prayers because there is no money for lavish frstivities and displays.
In view of this, there was uncertainty over the international friendly match which was initially organised as part of the national independence celebrations programme.
But Youth and Sports Minister Enoch Chakufwa Chihana has assured a local daily, The Nation, saying the game is certainly on after he personally sought Pres Banda’s intervention on the matter, saying she is game.
“I took up the matter with Her Excellency and it pleased her that the match should be part of the Independence Anniversary programme,” The Nation quoted the minister as saying in its Thursday edition.
“So, if Zambia have not changed their programme then the match is definitely on.”
The news is a big relief to the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and Flames coach Kinnah Phiri who have been yearning for international friendly matches to keep the Flames players in tune ahead of the forthcoming 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
The Flames next opponents in the second round of the Africa Cup of Nations are yet to be known, but Kinnah knows pretty well they are not a small team and to play the reigning champions would be a big boost in preparation for their next assignments.
Said Kinnah: “The development comes as a relief because Zambia are the reigning African champions and the match will definitely help us prepare for the final round of the 2013 Afcon qualifiers in which we expect to be drawn against a continental giant.”
Meanwhile, according to the media in Zambia, Chipolopolo coach Herve Renard has assembled a 26-member squad that is expected to go into camp on July 2 in preparation for the match to be played at a venue yet to be named.
The Flames squad, which is yet to be names, is expected to go into camp this Sunday.
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