Blow to Malawi football as Castel pulls out

Carlsberg Cup

Football Association of Malawi (FAM) says Castel Malawi’s decision to withdraw sponsorship of Carlsberg Cup is a massive blow to football.

On Thursday, Castel Malawi released a statement from which they announced their withdrawal, citing financial constraints as they were forced to operate on a leaner budget.

Carlsberg Cup
Masters Security won the Cup in 2018

“Due to the financial constraints that the company is facing, we have decided to cancel the Carlsberg Cup Sponsorship until further notice. Kindly note that 2019 has been a challenging year and this has forced the Company to operate on a leaner budget,” read part of the statement.

And soon after this heartbreaking news, FAM, through President Walter Nyamilandu, said the decision comes at a time when the football fraternity was eagerly waiting for the competition to kick off.

“This is a very sad day for Malawi Football. The Carlsberg Cup was one of the biggest platforms for football development. It was a rare platform that gave the lower league sides a chance to compete pound by pound with the big boys from the elite league.”

“A number of rookies from lower league made their breakthrough via Carlsberg Cup and are today big name players in the top teams. I am short of words to explain how saddened we are with this development,” said Nyamilandu.

However, he was quick to appreciate the reasons behind the decision by the company to cut ties with the association.

“Since the beginning of the year, there have been stories in the media on how the company is struggling financially and how it has continuously modified most of its operations. We know if all were rosy, today they would instead be announcing the hiking of the sponsorship.

“Carlsberg has, is and will always be a great sporting brand globally and locally. Castel Malawi, indeed Castel International has passion and commitment to football development. Apart from the cup, the company was recently the only official sponsor of the Malawi National Football team and funders of the prestigious Copa-Coca-Cola Schools Development Tournament.

“The company has given us hope and assurance that the situation is short term and that the cup and indeed the extended football sponsorships from Castel Malawi will return once the operations stabilizes. FAM will continue to engage Castel Malawi on exploring ways to continue working together in football development while urging our stakeholders to continue patronizing its products. We will always cherish the working relationship we had with the company,” he concluded.

The Carlsberg Cup was a true national cup, like the Famous FA Cup, with upsetting results year in year out as minnows shocked so called giants.

The biggest shock was when defunct Zomba United, a then Southern Region Football League side defeated three Super League teams to become the first non-Super League side to reach the final  which they lost 2-0 to Nyasa Big Bullets in 2014.

Just last year, another non- Super League side Hangover FC floored two Super League teams enroute to the Semifinal where they lost to Befoward Wanderers.

Current holders Masters Security also made history by winning their first national cup after edging favorites Befoward Wanderers last year.

In 2013, Castel Malawi introduced the Carlsberg Discovery of the Season award which was aimed at recognizing young unknown talent that made impact in the Cup.

The award motivated a lot of youngsters and most winners have gone on to become household names for Super League teams with last season’s winner Francisco Mkonda earning a dream move to Befoward Wanderers after shining in the Carlsberg cup with Masters.

Carlsberg Cup in Numbers

11- Number of Seasons ( 2000, 2001,2002, 2003, 2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018)

3- Most wins jointly shared by Be Forward Wanderers ( 2000, 20015, 2016) and Nyasa Big Bullets ( 2002, 2014,2017)

1-Number of times there was no winner as the 2003 final was abandoned and never replayed.

5- Blantyre derby final matches (2000, 2002, 2003, 2015, 2017) – Bullets won 2 (2002, 2017), Wanderers won 2 (2000 and 2015) one was abandoned.

6- Times Kamuzu Stadium has hosted the final (2000, 2002, 2003, 2014, 2016, 2018)

4- Other stadiums that have hosted the final apart from Kamuzu Stadium. Civo (2001, 2015), Mzuzu (2013), Silver (2012), BNS (2017)

7- Years between the abandoned 2003 final and the fifth edition in 2012.

Results of all Final matches

2000- Telecom Wanderers 2 (Bob Mpinganjira, Hendrix Banda) Total Big Bullets 1 (Chikondi Banda)

2001- Moyale 1 (Prichard Mwanza) Escom United 0

2002- Total Big Bullets 1 (McDonald Yobe) MTL Wanderers 0

2003- Total Big Bullets 2 (James Chilapondwa X2) MTL Wanderers 2 (Joseph KamwendoX2) – Match abandoned in extra time.

2012- Blue Eagles 1 (Ben Hojani) Escom United 0

2013- Moyale Barracks 0 Kamuzu Barracks 1 (Harvey Mkacha)

2014- Big Bullets 2 (Henry Kabichi, Victor Limbani) Zomba United 0

2015- Be Forward Wanderers 2 (Victor Nyirenda, Kondwani Kumwenda) Nyasa Big Bullets 1 (Jaffali Chande)

2016- Be Forward Wanderers 1 (Harry Nyirenda) Silver Strikers 1 (Victor Limbani) Wanderers win 5-4 on penalties

2017- Nyasa Big Bullets 2(Muhamad Sulumba, Nelson Kangunje) Be Forward Wanderers 2 (Jaffali Chande, Isaac Kaliyati) – Bullets won 5-3 on Penalties

2018- Be Forward Wanderers 1 (Precious Sambani) Masters Security 1 (Sam Phiri) Masters Won 5-4 on Penalties.