A replica of the coach to be bought and branded
* FDH Holdings Group CEO William Mpinganjira visited the Flames at their base in Djeunga Palace in Yaoundé
* We have been with the team for six years now and we are happy with the progress that we have made together along the way
* In our discussion with FAM leadership, we noted that the Flames bus is aging and we will buy you a brand-new coach
* The purchase of the bus is over and above our annual contribution and is just the beginning of more good things to come
By Duncan Mlanjira
Impressed with the historic achievement of the Flames at the 2021 Cameroun Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) where they reached their first-ever qualification into the knockout stages, official sponsors FDH Bank Plc have pledged to buy a special state-of-art bus for the team.
At the 2021 AFCON, each participating team had a speech coach painted in their national colours and their names emblazoned on the sides.
A report on Fam.mw says the pledge was made by FDH Holdings Group Chief Executive Officer, William Mpinganjira on Wednesday when he visited the Flames at their base in Djeunga Palace in Yaoundé to congratulate them after their 1-2 loss to North African giants, Morocco in the Round of 16 encounter on Tuesday.
Mpinganjira had travelled to Cameroun with other FDH Bank officials to watch the encounter and encouraged the players that they bowed out honourably and should hold their heads high.
“We have been with the team for six years now and we are happy with the progress that we have made together along the way,” Mpinganjira is quoted as saying.
“Sometime back, in our discussion with FAM leadership, we noted that the Flames bus is aging. As a token of appreciation for your performance here in Cameroon, we will buy you a brand-new coach.
“The purchase of the bus is over and above our annual contribution to the Flames. This is just the beginning of more good things to come,” Mpinganjira is quoted as saying by Fam.mw.
Last week, as the country celebrates the Flames their historic qualification, FAM paid special tribute to FDH Bank for the invaluable contribution it has given towards the football development in the country whose fruits of investment have been manifested in the excellent performance at the 2021 AFCON.
FDH Bank started sponsoring the Flames in 2016 at K30 million a year before doubling it in 2018 and further increased the sponsorship to K120 million.
Apart from being official partner of the Flames, FDH Bank also sponsors the country’s highest cup competition, the FDH Bank Cup.
Soon after qualifying for their third AFCON appearance, FDH Bank also gave the Flames a morale booster dubbed ‘FDH Flames Friday’ — a campaign of total support for the Flames that was rolled out in April in being proud of its association with the Flames and to celebrate Malawi’s feat having last qualified for the continental showpiece in 2010 in Angola.
After making the pledge, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu Manda is quoted to have applauded FDH Bank for the gesture, saying “the bus the Flames are using is old and needed urgent replacement.
“We have been struggling on how to replace it due to limited funding. The gesture from FDH Bank is,mtherefore, very timely and we remain forever grateful.
“On top of that we are grateful for your coming to watch and support us play against Morocco. Your presence encouraged the boys to work harder as it proves that you are with the team all the way.
“You also facilitated our smooth participation at AFCON. You gave us the whole K120 million annual sponsorship at once which we don’t take for granted,” Nyamilandu is quoted as saying whilst saluting the Bank for remaining steadfast as a committed key partner of football for the past 6 years — investing over K1.1 billion into the game.
Last week, Nyamilandu said FDH Bank has consistently stood by their side as a key sponsor “even during our lowest moments when the team was not doing well and other sponsors looked the other way”.
“They have displayed great faith and patience with unwavering support through and through and that’s why we are all here celebrating the fruits of their investment with the Flames historic qualification into the AFCON Round of 16 for the first time ever.
“We would like to have such type of partners and keep them closer to our hearts. We therefore would like to urge the sponsoring community to emulate the virtues displayed by FDH Bank.
“We indeed unreservedly attribute the Flames historic success at AFCON to FDH Bank. They have been a great source of support and inspiration being a consistent and committed sponsor over the past 6 years.”
In their third AFCON appearance, Malawi had already written a history for themselves, going beyond the group stage for the very first time — but they were eyeing one more step forward to go past the Round of 16.
After falling 0-1 to Guinea in opening group qualifying match, the Flames responded in style, beating fellow Confederation of African Football Associated (COSAFA) member, Zimbabwe 2-1 before holding giants Senegal to a goalless draw that ensured their place in the Round of 16 as one of the best four third-place teams.
Comoros were the other COSAFA member and were voted as Surprise Team of the tournament for qualifying into their first knockout stages in their debut appearance — before being beaten 1-2 by the hosts Cameroun.
In their first AFCON appearance in 1984 in Côte d’Ivoire, the Flames made a huge impression when they led 2-0 against Super Eagles of Nigeria but the game ended 2-2 and went on to lose 0-1 to Ghana and 0-3 against Algeria.
In their second in Angola in 2010, they stirred some excitement in their opening game when they beat north African giants Tunisia 3-1 but lost their consequent matches — 0-2 against the hosts Angola and 1-3 against Mali.
Having had 3 points, Malawi needed a draw to reach their first-ever quarter-final qualification.
Meanwhile, qualifications for AFCON’s 34th edition to be hosted by Cote d’Ivoire in 2023, will kick off in March soon after the 2021 edition starting first with a preliminary round involving 12 least ranked teams.
Ranked at 129th in the world and 33 in Africa as of December 2021, Malawi were amongst teams that were seeded from the preliminary round draw held by Confederation of African Football (CAF) Friday last week.
Teams involved were Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana, Mauritius, Seychelles — from the Confederation of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA); Gambia, South Sudan, Chad, Sao Tome & Principe, Djibouti, Somalia and Eritrea.
Level 1 of the draw, which is for the highest of the 12 least ranked teams had four from the COSAFA — Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana and Mauritius — alongside Gambia and South Sudan.
Level 2 had Chad, Sao Tome & ePrincipe, Djibouti, Somalia Eritrea and COSAFA side Seychelles.
The six highest ranked teams in Level 1 was drawn against the six least ranked teams in Level 2 with the first leg set to be played at home of the lower ranked teams.
The preliminary round fixtures, to be played on March 21 & 29, 2022, are as follows:
* Eritrea v Botswana
* Sao Tome and Principe v Mauritius
* Djibouti v South Sudan
* Seychelles v Lesotho
* Somalia v Eswatini
* Chad v Gambia
The six aggregate winners will join the 42 highest ranked teams into the group stage of the qualifiers.