Football Association of Malawi (FAM) says it has abandoned the annual selection of players into junior national football teams.
Speaking on the side lines of in augural Under-20 National Championship held over the weekend at Mangochi Stadium to select players, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said players will now be selected every three years to ensure they remain in the team for a minimum of two years.
He said: “In the past we would do this exercise three weeks before a tournament and players were selected just for that particular tournament. But now we are targeting players that will be with the team up to 2023 for the Africa Cup of Nations’ (Afcon) qualifiers.”
Malawi is set to participate at this year’s Cosafa Youth Championship to be held in South Africa in December.
Next year’s Cosafa Championship will be used as a qualifier for the 2023 Under-20 Afcon.
“This means coach Patrick Mabedi and his panel have a year and a half to work with these boys before the Afcon qualifiers in December 2022.
“But the door is not closed for other players who did not come here. Every player who is good enough and is within the age bracket—whether they play in Super League or outside the country—will be considered for selection,” said Nyamilandu.
Mabedi said he was impressed with the talent he saw during the tournament.
He said: “I am satisfied with the quality of the players that we have picked . I am particularly impressed with height of most of them and we will have a strong team that will ably compete at international level.
“I should thank FAM for the exercise because this is how players are identified elsewhere.
“We had a group of 80 players and we will come up with a squad of 30 players who we will announce in due course and from here we plan to hold a training camp soon.”
Football analyst Charles Nyirenda said other countries have already been doing this while Malawi was picking players three weeks before a tournament.
He said: “A good example is South Africa Under-17. In 2019 they brought a young squad and were punching bags when we hosted the tournament.
“We beat them 3-0 during that tournament. But a year later, the same team won the championship. It’s good that we have finally decided to do the right thing.”
During the tournament, Central Region emerged champions after winning all their matches at the two-day event.
They finished top of group with nine points after beating Southern Region 4-2, Northern Region 2-0 and Eastern Region 4-0.
Eastern Region finished second with four points after beating North 2-1 and drawing 3-3 with South.
North finished third with three points with a single win over South who finished bottom with just a point.