In the aftermath of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers draw, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has released fixtures.
The Flames will kick-start their campaign against winners between Comoros and Mauritius at home on June 13. Their next match will be against the Atlas Lions of Morocco on March 27 next year before hosting the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon on September 3 with the return leg slated for a week later.
Flames captain Limbikani Mzava said playing the first match at home puts Malawi at an advantage.
However, he dismissed suggestions that the odds will be stacked in Flames favour considering that they will be up against a weaker opposition.
“Starting the campaign at home gives us a boost, but to tip the odds in our favour just because we will face the winner of the preliminaries [either Comoros or Mauritius] is not true because there are no longer small teams nowadays.
“While we have been on the downward plunge in the recent past, teams such as Mauritius have improved noticeably and it will be a big mistake to underrate them,” he cautioned in an interview from his Durban base in South Africa yesterday..
Mzava also reiterated on the need to start preparations in good time.
“June is just a few months away and I hope FAM and government will speed up the process of identifying a coach so that he gets down to work as soon as possible.”
On his part, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu said a flying start will be critical for the Flames as it will provide them a spring in their step going into the next round of matches.
“It, therefore, augurs well to start the first fixture at home. This will be a must win-match,” he said.
Only table toppers, the host and three best second-placed sides will make the finals in Cameroon.
By virtue of being the hosts, Cameroon automatically qualify for the tournament and in the event that they top Group B, the runner-up will qualify. n