Malawi have been forced to withdraw from qualifying for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco because of a lack of funds.

The decision was taken after the government said there was enough money for the team to play in either the Nations Cup or the 2015 Africa Youth Championship.

“We have no choice but to forgo the Nations Cup because government advised us to prioritise,” said Malawi Football Association (FAM) President Walter Nyamilandu.

“We have therefore prioritised the Under-20 Championship for the sake of development – and also the consequences of pulling out of that tournament would have been far-reaching since we have already confirmed our participation.”

It is a big blow to the Flames, who returned to action for the first time in six months on Wednesday 5 March with a home friendly against Zimbabwe, which they lost 4-1.

The match was meant to kick-start Malawi’s preparations for the Nations Cup qualifiers and FAM had funded the match.

Last September, the Malawi government advised FAM to forgo their last Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Nigeria in Calabar since it had exhausted its funding.

But the association went ahead, forcing the government to draw US$5,200 from the Presidential Initiative on Sports to supplement their $143,000 budget for the trip.

Sports minister Enock Chihana advised FAM following their failure to qualify for the 2013 Nations Cup in South Africa to focus on grassroots football.

-BBC