Malawi in Tricky Group World Cup Qualifiers


Malawi National Football team, ‘The Flames’ has only been to the Africa Nations Cup finals once in 1984.

The team’s performance in the last three qualifying rounds has opened doors of opportunity that could take it to the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa and Africa Cup in Angola.

The October 22 (FIFA) draw in Zurich, Switzerland however has brought them lingering doubts of proceeding to the finals.

The draw has pitted them against some of the best Africa’s footballing nations of Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Guinea in Group E of the 2010 South Africa World Cup African Zone qualifier.

Malawi, which is smarting from a successful third round competitive campaign in Group 12 where it clobbered minnows Djibouti 8-1 and 0-4 home and away respectively, ambushed African Champions Egypt 1-0 at home before losing 0-2 in Cairo also lost away to DRC 0-1 before upturning the tables at home where they beat the DRC Leopards 2-1.

After a successful stint in this qualifying round The Flames found themselves least ranked African team out of the 20 victorious teams that sailed to 2010 World Cup Africa zone final qualifying round.

According to latest FIFA rankings, Malawi is number 31 on the continent and number 109 on the world rankings while its other Group E competitors are far too high on the rankings like Ivory Coast which is at 29, Guinea at 41 and Burkina Faso 53.

The Flames Coach Kinnah Phiri says they have been put in a fair group, and hopes his charges can manage to outperform the others with more international friendly matches.

“We have to sit down with FAM [Football Association of Malawi] and strategise on which teams we can play against and this will need a lot of money to fulfil,” he said in an interview.

“We stand a better chance to qualify for the South Africa 2010 World Cup; our aim is to qualify for the World Cup. We are not only aiming at Africa Cup of Nation finals in Angola,” said Phiri.

The trickiest customer for Malawi in the group is Ivory Coast, the group favourites for World Cup backed by their impeccable pedigree that stretches to as far as 1965.

The Ivorians have been African Champions once in 1992 out of their 19 appearances at the finals.

They were runners-up in 2006, finished on third four times in 1965, 1968, 1986, and 1994 and became fourth in the 1970 finals.

FAM Chief Executive Charles Nyirenda says Malawi has played Ivory Coast several times the first one being as early as in 1974 when Malawi beat them 5-1 in Blantyre during Independence commemoration.

Malawi last played Ivory Coast in 1987 where it lost twice to the Elephants, as the Ivorians are known. The Flames lost 2-1 at home and 3-0 away in the Africa Cup qualifiers before losing 2-0 in all African Games.

Another team Malawi should also expect a crunch encounter in its fixture against Guinea.

There is one game where Malawi held Guinea to one-all draw consequently leading to the dissolution of the country’s football federation by government. Because of this, the team never travelled to Malawi for the second leg because by this time FIFA had suspended it due to its government’s interference.

The other team to face Malawi in the group, Burkina Faso once beat Malawi 4-2 in the 2002 World Cup qualifier although they were held to a one all draw in the return leg.

The Malawi Coach says the draw is a blessing in disguise for Malawi since all these are West African teams that know very little about Malawi’s type of soccer.

Looking at the teams in the group, FAM President Walter Nyamilandu observed that this is not an easy group.

“We are still underdogs in the group,” he intoned “But we have huge potential to cause major upset,” he added after a second thought.

Malawi’s first game is away against Ivory Coast on March 28 next year before playing Burkina Faso at home on June 20. It will play away against Guinea on June 20 and a return leg at home on September 5.

Malawi’s last game will be away against Burkina Faso, commonly known as ‘Les Etalons’ away on November 14 after sizing up with Ivory Coast at home on October 22.

Nyamilandu says they plan to have the team camp in Europe as part of preparations.

During the draw, FIFA President Joseph Blatter was quoted on the www.fifa.com saying 2010 is the first FIFA World Cup taking place in Africa.

“It is also the first time that six African teams will play at a FIFA World Cup,” he said.

Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Issa Hayatou praised Africa’s organisation for the first and second stage of African qualifying.

The draw in the other groups is as follows: Group A: Cameroon, Morocco, Gabon and Togo; Group B: Nigeria, Tunisia, Kenya and Mozambique; Group C: Egypt, Algeria, Zambia and Rwanda while Group D: Ghana, Mali, Benin and Sudan.

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Court Puts Joy Radio Back on Air


The High Court in Malawi’s commercial city of Blantyre on Sunday October 19, granted the closed private broadcaster Joy Radio an injunction, stopping the revocation of its licence by the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA).

Following the court order, at exactly, 1430 hours the Radio Station returned on air registering a two and half hour blackout.

Lawyer for the radio, Ralph Kasambara said he applied for the court’s consideration on the decision by MACRA.

The regulatory body argued that the radio breached terms of its licence by among other things transferring ownership to politicians, which is contrary to the Communications Act.

Documentation at MACRA shows that Joy Radio Station first registered under the ownership of Multi Media Communications Property Limited and Rashid Nembo, a businessperson and a politician who is an executive member of the United Democratic Front (UDF) party.

Multi Media Communications Property Limited was first incorporated in Lesotho before in was also incorporated in Malawi on April 8, 2002. On June 11, 2002, it became a shareholder in Joy Radio Limited.

MACRA Director of Broadcasting James Chimera argues that ownership of Joy Radio Station, which was granted licence on April 1, 2002, has now changed hands to Atupele Properties, which is owned by former President Dr. Bakili Muluzi who is fighting for a come back as he intends to stand in the next year’s presidential elections.

Section 48, sub-section 7 of the Communications Act says, “No broadcasting licence shall be issued to any association, party, movement, organization, body or alliance which is of a party-political nature”.

Kasambara said since Atupele Properties is co-owned by Dr. Muluzi and his former wife Anne at 50-50 stake, the company is not political.

The court has since given MACRA seven days to justify its decision.

ELECTIONS PROCESS IN CHITIPA FACES A HURDLE


Registration process in Chitipa District faced an upheaval over the weekend as members of elections staff were refusing to go to their respective registration centres due to what they called poor working conditions.
It took a great deal of pleading from the Regional Elections Officer who flew to the district in a military helicopter for the workers to soften up their stand.
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chief Elections Officer Mr. David Bandawe confirmed of the incident to this blog.
The workers confided to this blog that they have demanded that the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) improve their working environment if they want the process to be a success.
Registration in the whole of Chitipa district, which is part of the Fourth phase of the process, started on Monday October 20 and will end on November 2 alongside other parts of the country.
The workers who declined to give out their identities cried foul over lack of commitment by the electoral body to improve their working conditions.
They claimed the body has no consideration over their welfare, citing late payment and inhuman mode of transporting them to various centers.
Some of the elections staff that were in Mzimba Hora claimed that MEC had forgotten them for two days in seven registration centres they were at and had to remember about them when they were looking into the logistics of the same activity in Chitipa.
On the night of October 17, the staff claim they were packed in the body of an ESCOM track, which transported them through out the night to Chitipa and were never paid their dues for the extension in time.
They also claim that Supervisors are paid K30, 000 for 14 days work and K25,000 for Camera personnel, in between there are four days that are also spent when they are moving from one registration area to another and these days are not factored into their payment provision.
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chief Elections Officer Mr. David Bandawe told ZBS that indeed there were problems in Chitipa and have since been resolved.

GLOBAL CLIMATIC CHANGE PUTS MALAWI UNDER THREAT


The adverse effects of global climatic change are set to hit the country the hardest because of its dependence on agricultural production for its economy and livelihood.

Secretary for Agriculture and Food Security Mr. Andrew Daudi observed on Monday in Mzuzu that projected temperature increases and expected reductions in precipitation are likely to reduce productivity.

Mr. Daudi who was speaking through Mzuzu ADD Programme Manager Mr. Chris Khonje asked a land resources conservation departmental conference to come up with better strategy to cope up with climatic changes.

The country’s officials from the department of Land Resources Conservation are meeting in Mzuzu, which is an annual fixture on their calendar.

However, what is perhaps the change in this year’s meeting is the realization of the threats to the country’s survival that has come due to the adverse effects of global climatic change.

Mzuzu ADD Programme Manager Mr. Chris Khonje who opened the conference on behalf of the Secretary for Agriculture and Food Security Mr. Andrew Daudi observed that since agriculture contributes nearly 40 % of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) it employs almost 90 % of the population and brings in over 80 % of foreign earnings through exports.

He said this is the reason this particular meeting is themed; “Up scaling Conservation Agriculture: Adaptation to Impact of Climate Change to Achieve Increased Sustained Food Security’ aimed at coping up with the changes in climate.

The agriculture secretary therefore said the only way to achieve this is through sustainable land and water management pillar in the Agricultural Development Programme, which is an investment framework for agriculture in Malawi.

“This particular pillar is targeting higher efficiency of soil nutrients and available rainwater to maintain and increase crops and fodder production, which in turn would allow for cash cropping and food diversification,” he said.

Through this arrangement the ministry will encourage adaptation to climate change is a process through which people reduce the adverse effects of climate.

MALAWIAN JOURNALIST WINS TB MEDIA AWARD


It never gets less sweet than this for Malawi’s The Sunday Times Editor Brian Ligomeka who barely two months after clinching a Gender reporting award has again won the 2008 International Award for Excellence in Reporting on Tuberculosis.
Ligomeka, who is also Chairperson for the Malawi MISA chapter otherwise known as the National Media Institute of Southern Africa (NAMISA), received US$3,000 and a certificate at a reception held in his honour in Paris, France on Thursday night.
Ligomeka wrote several articles in The Sunday Times of Malawi early this year but there are two that have won him the award and they are; “Fighting TB as part of the deadly trio” and “When HIV/Aids marries TB the honeymoon is disaster”.
The health journalism award, which is supported by the Stop TB Partnership, recognizes outstanding reporting and commentary in print and on the web that materially increases the public’s knowledge and understanding of tuberculosis. The second place winner in the competition is Ilze Vainovska of Latvia, whose article We can, was published in Kursas Laik. The third place winner is Berlanty Refaat of Egypt.