Confederation of African Football (CAF) has hinted that Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers could resume in October following the postponement of matches in March due to the coronavirus.
Malawi were scheduled to face Group B opponents Burkina Faso on March 26 away and March 31 at home before all sports events globally were cancelled to tame the spread of the pandemic.
According to online publication www.goal.com, CAF secretary general Abdelmounaim Bah said though most national leagues are resuming, it would be difficult to reschedule the games in September due to travel challenges.
“The international windows scheduled for March and June have been cancelled, but the months of October and November 2020 represent a lot of hope.
“We no longer include September in the strategies because it will be quite complicated to have the teams travel from one country to another as early as September,” he said.
Bah was optimistic that the finals could still be staged in Cameroon in January 2021, but may also consider pushing it to 2022, depending on circumstances.
“If we cannot make up for the Afcon 2021 qualifiers in October and November, we will have to think of another plan—Afcon next January, however, remains our number one priority. January 2022 remains the second option,” he stated.
There have been suggestions to postpone the finals to June next year, but Bah shot them down.
“Playing in June/July in Cameroon is difficult because of the weather conditions. In addition, in June/July 2021 there are already a lot of competitions such as the Euros and the Copa America,” he explained.
In an interview yesterday, Malawi national team coach Meck Mwase welcomed the CAF proclamation as positive news for football.
“We have missed the game and it’s good news that CAF is forecasting that the games could resume in October. We will do everything possible to be ready,” he said.
Mwase said his key focus during preparations for the qualifiers is to play a couple of friendly matches.
“I have the confidence that our mother body Football Association of Malawi will make everything possible that we prepare well and in time by letting us play friendly games,” he said.
Malawi were paired against Burkina Faso, Uganda and South Sudan in Group B. All teams have played two matches and remain with four matches to wrap up the qualifiers.
Currently, Uganda lead the pack with four points, Burkina Faso is second with same points, but trail on goal difference.
The Flames are third with three points while South Sudan, anchor the table, having lost both games. n