More distinctions fall on Flames heroic goalie Charles Thom as Sparc Systems honours its K1m reward

Man of the moment Charles Thom

* As a 100% Malawian company, Sparc System also carries the Malawi flag in Africa and across the world—MD Wisely Phiri

* Our national team are doing the same and they have carried the flag higher looking at their performance at AFCON

* Football is more than just sport — it plays a role in international development by putting the country on the map

By Duncan Mlanjira

Malawians continue to marvel Charles Thom’s spectacular performance that frustrated a star-studded Senegal in the last Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Group B qualifying match that saw the Flames salvage a draw that has earned them a chance for the best third-placed to qualify for the knockout stages for the first time ever.

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Pledges were made prior to the crucial match to reward the team if they qualify that included that from President Lazarus Chakwera of K1 million each for those who played and K500,000 for the subs.

Fans back home were skeptical if Thom would save the Flames in his competitive international debut but the 22-year-old defied all odds and produced the best of him probably ever to frustrate the number one team in Africa led by Liverpool’s Sadio Mane.

Thom, who was called to duty as replacement to resurgent Flames first choice goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe — who could not play because he was attacked by malaria — kept the highly-rated Senegal players at bay with brilliant saves.

Malawians quickly responded to honour the young man for his heroics that earned him Man of the Match award and they include one of the country’s top ICT companies, Sparc Systems — which has honoured its K1 million pledge to Thom for his heroics.

Wisely Phiri, Sparc Systems MD

Sparc’s Managing Director, Wisely Phiri said as a 100% Malawian company, they too have been carrying the flag for this country in Africa and across the world as their have branches in Lusaka, Zambia and Kigali in Rwanda.

“Our national team are doing the same and they have carried the flag higher looking at their performance at AFCON. We are very proud of them. 

“We decided to beef up the morale by giving the goalkeeper K1 million to appreciate the outstanding work he has done for the game against Senegal.

 “Football is more than just sport. It plays a role in international development by putting the country on the map and does positive change to our youths.

“We wish out team all the best. They should know that the whole country is behind them,” Phiri is quoted as saying on Fam.mw.

Thom maintains that the award is for the whole team

While thanking Sparc Systems for the kind gesture, Thom was humble, saying “the biggest recognition should go to the whole team for the effort to get these results”.

The Silver Strikers second choice goalkeeper, has also been rewarded by Hills and Associates with a 15 by 30 metres of land, which came after rewarding Gabadinho Mhango with the same size of plot in recognition of his inspiring performance that saw the Flames come from a goal down to beat Zimbabwe 2-1 in the second Group B match.

Hills and Associates also offered each of the Flames player to buy land at a discount of 40% in appreciation to their efforts.

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Chakwera applauded the Flames for their wonderful on Tuesday, saying they have made the country proud while maintains his

promise to honour the pledge he made.

Prophet Austin Liabubya also pledged K1 million to every player, including those on bench and staff should the Flames Tuesday’s match — which they drew 0-0 but they have a realistic chance of making to the round of 16 as third best-placed team after collecting four points.

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Fam has also dangled a K1 million bonus if the win and draw shall qualify them into their first-ever knock out stages but if they fail, they shall get the normal bonus of K500,000 for a win and half for a draw.

Further to that, once they will qualify into the quarterfinals and go on to the semis and the final, a bonus of 50% of the qualification bonus funds from Confederation of African Football (CAF) shall go towards the players with FAM retaining the balanced for operational costs of the team.

CAF Executive Committee increased the prize money from quarterfinals at US$1.175 million (an increase of US$175,000); semifinals at US$2.2 million (an increase of US$200,000); runners-up US$2.75 million (an increase of US$250,000) and the champions at US$5 million at an increase of US$500,000.

Malawi were in Group alongside Senegal, Zimbabwe and Guinea. They lost to Guinea 1-0 in their opening match after putting up a gallant fight with a depleted squad due to CoVID-19 infection.

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