CAF campaign Chokes bullets

 CAF campaign Chokes bullets

 Malawi representatives in the CAF Champions League FCB Nyasa Bullets are expected to dig deep into their pockets as they will spend about K1 billion for the first and second rounds of the competition.

This follows the club’s qualification for the second-round for the first time in eight years, after beating Equatorial Guinea’s Dragon FC 3-0 on aggregate.

The club says having spent about K500 million to travel to the Central African country, they will need almost the same amount to travel to Democratic Republic of Congo to face TP Mazembe.

The budget covers air tickets, accommodation and local running, players’ bonuses and external allowances.

Bullets chief administration officer Albert Chigoga said apart from this, Bullets are

 also obliged to pay match officials for all home games in the competition.

He said: “It is not easy though, as substantial funds are required to fulfill the fixtures and meet statutory obligations.”

Tour of duty: Some Bullets players on arrival in Equatorial Guinea

 The CAF Champions League first round saw 44 teams out of 54 that entered the draw playing in two legs on home and away basis with the 22 winners joining 10 that were on bye in the second-round.

If successful against Mazembe in second-round, Bullets will be among 16 teams that will qualify for the group stages.

In group stages, the teams will be pooled into groups of four with winners and runners-up making it to the last eight to battle it out in quarter-finals all the way to the final.

Asked if Bullets has the financial muscle to go all the way, Chigoga said they will cross the bridge when they get there.

He said: “We have what at it takes to reach further levels of CAF Champions League; hence, joining the competition.

“As regards the budget for the group stage, we will await the conclusion of second preliminary round to see how we can plan for it.”

But Bullets chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda said the situation is worsened by the country’s shortage of forex and the devaluation of the kwacha which is now pegged at K1 126.77 to the US dollar.

“This is our biggest setback. Getting forex to travel and play the away qualifiers is our biggest challenge.

“The instability of the kwacha is also another setback. You end up paying double what you initially budgeted for. Let’s hope the situation will improve as we go,” he said.

Nyirenda thanked the club’s owners Nyasa Manufacturing Company, sponsors First Capital Bank and other partners for their assistance in the campaign.

“Without them, it would have been impossible to participate in the competition amidst these challenges,” he said.

However, Nyirenda said they are inspired by the prize at hand if they make it to the group stage.

Teams that make it to the group stage of the continental

 competition and finish on positions three and four are entitled to $700 000 (about K766.5 million).

Those that make it to the quarter-finals are entitled to $900 000 (about K985.5 million) while semi-finalists will get $1.2 million.

Runners-up will walk away with $2 million while the champions cart home $4 million.

Meanwhile, soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda in an interview said despite the financial burden, Bullets will reap from their efforts.

He said: “Look, for the last four years, Bullets were knocked out in the first preliminary round. People were laughing at them for this misfortune.

“Others even suggested that they should stop participating in CAF competitions. But today here they are in the second round. So, this is an investment worth it.”

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