The Malawi National Football Team will play their opening match of the 2023 AFCON group qualifiers against Ethiopia on home soil following Confederation of African Football’s temporary approval of Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.
This will be the first time that the Flames will be playing in Malawi since March 2021 as CAF banned BNS, forcing the Flames to play their home matches at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg South Africa.
But CAF on Sunday gave the stadium a temporary approval following an inspection that was carried out by CAF Inspector Ivan Lengwe Mumba from Zambia on Thursday.
A letter from CAF signed by Developmental Director Raul Chipendo reads: “Please note that the approved stadium (BNS) will be set as the venue to host the Match Group D Malawi vs Ethiopia related to the group stage qualifiers of the Africa Cup of Nations Cote d Ivorie 2023 Match Day 1.”
CAF has also directed areas to be improved to ensure that the stadium is permanently approved in the future for CAF Competitions.
FAM General Secretary Alfred Gunda welcomed the good news and thanked government for the excellent collaboration and support to get the stadium certified.
“We have come a long way to achieve this, and we must thank the Malawi government and the FAM leadership for the effort and resources that has enabled us get this status.
“It was important to have the pitch certified for international matches so that the Flames play home matches in Malawi to manage costs and allow Malawians to support their beloved Flames at their backyard.
“We will not relax but go back on the ground to work on all the shortfalls so that we should get a permanent approval,” said Gunda.
Among others, CAF has indicated that much as the condition of the pitch has improved it is not yet at a desired level and that there is need to continue maintenance and preservation of the field of play area.
Another critical area is the improvement of public access where CAF is demanding that: “The Stadium must be equipped with modern electronic access and automated counting system delivering real time spectators’ attendance per sector and data analysis to the VOC and preventing the use of counterfeit tickets and overcrowding. Modern turnstiles with automatic counting apparatus need to be installed.”
Other areas to be worked on include substitutes benches, dressing room lockers, media related areas and sanitary facilities for spectators.