Malawi today begins hosting the Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa)Under-17 Championship in Blantyre.
The country last hosted the tournament in 2001. Eighteen years, in a football calendar, is a long time. It is less surprising, therefore, that the players in the then Malawi squad have faded into shadows of oblivion.
All that remains, are memories of Robert Ng’ambi dominating the midfield, forward ace Grant Lungu tricking his way past defenders and the hosting team holding aloft the trophy they deservedly won.
To be held in Blantyre, the Cosafa Under-17 contest, which has attracted eight southern Africa countries, begins with Group B tussles between Lesotho and Comoros at Mpira Stadium this morning and later in the day, defending champions Angola face Mozambique.
Group A matches kick off tomorrow with Zambia facing e-Swatini and later Malawi taking on South Africa.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) competitions and communications director GomezganiZakazaka in an interview yesterday said all is set for the games whose official opening ceremony will be held on Saturday.
“It has been a long time since we hosted the competition. However, with the organisation knowledge which some football officials tapped from foreign missions, we have managed to put everything in order,” he said.
Zakazaka said, as of yesterday morning, all teams had arrived save for e-Swatini (formerly Swaziland) which was expected to land in the afternoon.
He described the tournament as an opportunity for the young Flames to learn how to play at home.
“They have always been competing on foreign soils. This tournament, therefore, offers them a chance to appreciate the pressure that comes when you are playing at home,” said Zakazaka.
According to the competition’s format, the top two teams in each group will progress to the semi-finals, where the contest will switch to a knockout setup.
The final will be played at Mpira Stadium in Chiwembe Township on October 20.