Malawi women’s football’s fortunes oscillated like a pendulum yesterday during Cosafa Under-20 Youth Championship draw as the team was initially included only to be disqualified later for late confirmation.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) wanted Malawi to participate in both the senior and the junior tournaments to be held concurrently in Port Elizabeth, South Africa this month.
However, FAM only confirmed for the seniors tournament and only expressed interest on Tuesday to also send the Under-20 team as well.
Though Malawi was included in the Under-20 draw and paired against the hosts, Namibia and Zimbabwe, Cosafa later on apologised and replaced Malawi with Mozambique.
Cosafa deputy chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda, a Malawian, who is responsible for competitions, confirmed the development in an interview yesterday.
“It was an administrative error on Under-20 draw. Malawi is not supposed to appear as it has transpired that Mozambique had confirmed way back in May to participate in Under-20. So, Malawi is not participating in Under-20,” he said.
But FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda expressed surprise at Cosafa’s decision when asked for comment.
Meanwhile, the senior team has been drawn in Group A alongside the hosts, Comoros and Madagascar.
This will be the fourth time to be paired against Banyana since 2006 and Malawi has lost all the matches, including last year when South Africa triumphed 6-0.
Zambia headline Group B and will take on Namibia, Mauritius and Botswana.
Zimbabwe are heading Group C which also has Mozambique, Angola and e-Swatini (formerly Swaziland).
Senior national team coach Abel Mkandawire described the draws as tricky, but added that the team is prepared to face any opponent.
“To be the best you must always play the best, beat the best and prove that you are also the best,” said the coach.
Mkandawire said the tournament will give Malawi the best way to gauge the team’s readiness for the 2020 CAF Olympic Games qualifier against Kenya.
“Competitive games are the best way of measuring your strength,” he said.
FAM is yet to appoint the technical panel for the Under-20 which will in turn select players for the team.
FAM technical director John Kaputa said his office has submitted to the secretariat proposed names for the technical panel.
He said: “For the senior national team, we are okay; the team can go into camp any time. But for the Under-20 there is need to appoint a technical panel to lead the team immediately, so that they can start preparations. We believe both teams will need at least 15 days to prepare for the tournaments.
“Luckily, the regional leagues and Under-15 football league are underway in all the three regions. This should make selection of players easier since they are active.”
Meanwhile, China-based senior team captain, Tabitha Chawinga, says, Malawi is capable of beating the favourites Banyana Banyana. “Everything is possible with good preparations,” she said.