The battle for CAF Under-17 Afcon finals qualification starts today in Mauritius with the winners from the Cosafa Championship booking the ticket to next year’s tournament in Tanzania.
Malawi Under-17 national football team is in group C alongside Angola, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
Defending champions Zambia are in Group B with Mozambique, Lesotho and South Africa while Group A has hosts Mauritius, Botswana, Namibia and Seychelles.
Malawi starts its campaign tomorrow against Angola.
Coach DeKlerk Msakakuona said they are geared for the tournament despite taking a squad of new players with just five maintained from last year’s team that won bronze.
“Most of these players are participating at such a tournament for the first time. But we are confident that they can deliver. We just need to encourage the boys and avoid putting them under pressure,” he said.
Meanwhile, Malawi national football team head coach Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) is expected to join the team in Mauritius on Sunday after the Under-20 team Afcon qualifier against South Africa on Saturday.
The Junior Flames face Amajita in the second leg at Bingu National Stadium after a stalemate in the first leg in South Africa last weekend.
RVG yesterday said he was confident that the Under-17 would be successful in the opening match.
Malawi’s second group match is against Zimbabwe on Monday before wrapping up the first round against Swaziland two days later.
Just like last year, three group winners will proceed to the semi-finals where they will be joined by one best loser.
The champions will then qualify for the Tanzania Under-17 Afcon following a resolution of the first ever African Football Symposium in Rabat, Morocco.
CAF says the new format is expected to increase participation and competitiveness by getting all zones involved.
“The response has been great. A total of 49 member associations have confirmed their participation, which is a record compared to the previous years. We will get to see teams that never participated and rarely made an impact at the youth level.
“The U-17 is the nursery of our competitions and every eligible player must be given the opportunity to participate. We have been preparing for the past months in the areas of logistics, organisation and infrastructure, and I can confidently say, we are ready for the kick off,” CAF general secretary Amr Fahmy was quoted by cafonline.net
Each of CAF’s six zones—Cecafa, Cosafa, Unaf, Uniffac, Wafu A, Wafu B—will hold their regional qualifiers from July to September.
The Malawi squad at Cosafa Under-17 Championship: Goalkeepers: Kennedy Nankhama, Wongani Sabiti; Defenders: Vitumbiko Nyirenda, Kesten Simbi, Francis Mtoso, Tatenda Mbalaka, Evance Maliwata, Patrick Mponda; Midfielders: Tathedwa Willard, Patrick Mwaungulu, Lovemore Mbeta, Chimwemwe Namwiyo, Blessings Mpokera, Kenneth Chagunda, Julio Chagunda, Moses Mtago, Richard Chirwa, Alick Raabson Strikers: Gift Jossam, Emmanuel Mitole.