The Flames have been drawn with Africa’s top-ranked team Senegal in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals slated for next January in Cameroon.
During the draw held in Yaounde last night, Burkina Faso’s Stallions and fellow Cosafa bloc side Zimbabwe’s Warriors emerged the other Group B opponents.
Flames coach Meck Mwase said in an interview from Cameroon after the draw that they could not have asked for anything better.
He said: “There are no small teams at Afcon finals and considering our status as minnows, I would say it is a fair group.
“When we return home we will plan on how to thoroughly prepare for the tournament.”
On his part, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu also described the draw as fair.
He said: “It’s a fair group. We have a chance to flex our muscles.
“We will be playing Cameroon and Ivory Coast in the World Cup qualifiers Qatar 2022. These are strong forces on the continent that have been to the World Cup before.
“We will be toughened up by the time we go to the Africa Cup Cameroon 2022. As the Flames, we are ready to stand the heat.
“Having experienced the toughest, we will be ready for any team. To be a champion, you must beat the best. We are in such a privileged position as we resume the World Cup campaign and prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament. It is time for the Flames to rise up and be counted. We are ready for the bigger stage. We are ready to upset the giants.”
On his part, football analyst George Kaudza-Masina said: “A very tricky group. On paper, this is the best Malawi could have bargained for.
“We have beaten Zimbabwe before and matched Guinea in Conakry, but all the two teams have improved over the years and cannot compare with the Flames.
“For Senegal, we are miles away, but in football, anything can happen.”
Sadio Mane inspired Teranga Lions are the strongest in the group, having twice reached the final of the marquee African safari.
Senegal have also been in the quarter-finals of the World Cup before.