Malawi national football team coach, Meke Mwase has said he expects a tough contest in the COSAFA Challenge Cup preliminary round after being drawn in Group B against Mozambique, Namibia and Seychelles.
Speaking to Malawi News Agency on Friday, Mwase said he hopes to have a good combination of players who will be able to show their skills at one of the greatest stages of tough competition in African tournaments.
“This is a very exciting draw indeed and we need to exercise caution when facing these teams because there is no easy team that we have been paired with. We will be happy to play these teams but we need also to work extra hard and have a positive attitude.
“This is not the time of just participating but we are going there to compete. It is a neutral battle, we may be respecting them and they are also talking about us and also fearing us and that is why we are cautious in our preparations,” Mwase said.
Mwase added that the team will use the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) return leg match against e-Swatini on May 11 as a preparatory match for the COSAFA tournament.
“We will continue preparing and we hope that we are going to have good preparations ahead of the coming games. The CHAN game is a good test for us to see our shortfall,” he added.
The draw for the 19th of the COSAFA Challenge Cup took place in Johannesburg, South Africa on May 2 ahead of the kick-off scheduled for Durban from May 21 to June 8, 2019.
Southern Africa regional body, COSAFA Vice General Secretary, Suzgo Nyirenda said the Flames will start the competition from the group stages because of poor performance in the tournament last year.
Nyirenda added that the draw which has included Uganda as the guest nation following Madagascar’s withdrawal this year as they are also participating in AFCON has attracted 14 member associations under COSAFA.
“Eight teams have been divided into two groups and we expect that these teams will be in Durban for the kick-off. It will be an exciting period where teams from our region will have to showcase what they have in terms of the talent,” Nyirenda said.
Pool B comprises Angola, e-Swatini, Comoros and Mauritius. Zambia and Lesotho were due to better their COSAFA ranking and performance for the past two years, seeded alongside Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana and Uganda.
The quarterfinals games will start on June 4 with a game involving Lesotho and Uganda while Zimbabwe will play the winners of Group A. On June 5, South Africa will play Botswana. If Malawi qualifies in Group B, they will go ahead to meet Zambia in the quarter finals.
The Flames have never reached the semifinals of the COSAFA Cup since 2003. Zimbabwe are the defending champions.
By Mphatso John Sam of MANA