- Women’s team to use Cosafa Cup for Olympic preps
In a twist of events, Malawi women’s national football team will not camp overseas to prepare for a second-round CAF Women’s Olympic qualifier against Kenya.
Instead, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has announced that the team will use next month’s Cosafa Women’s Championship to be staged in Port Elizabeth, South Africa to tune up for the Olympic qualifier.
FAM in April announced that the team would camp overseas for the qualifier against Kenya following an emphatic 12-1 goal aggregate victory over Mozambique in first round.
Making the announcement in April, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said they wanted to treat the women’s football team the same way they had treated their men’s counterparts who camped in Belgium for the same competition.
But yesterday Nyamilandu said they shifted the overseas camp because it clashed with the Cosafa Women’s Championship scheduled for next month.
“We have agreed with the National Women’s Football Association [NWFA] to use the forthcoming Cosafa Women’s Championship to prepare for the Olympic qualifying match against Kenya. We will, thereafter, go for overseas camping after progressing to the next round,” he said.
Women’s football coach Abel Mkandawire said the Cosafa Women’s Championship was perfect for the Olympic qualifier preparations because they will play Africa teams.
The coach said the regional tournament would provide the technical team a chance to try players’ combinations in a competitive situation.
“The timing of the competition is just perfect. We will utilise the Cosafa Women’s Championship to the fullest,” he said.
The development means if the team beats Kenya, the overseas camp will be used to prepare against high rated Ghana or Gabon who also clash in the second round.
Soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda said the idea was welcome as it would help the association cut costs.
“On administration point of view, it’s a right call. The team can utilise the Cosafa championship which is all-paid for in terms of accommodation and other expenses.
“The overseas camp on the other hand, depends on FAM’s coffers. In terms of opponents, it’s also better to camp overseas to prepare for top teams like Gabon and Ghana. The players just have to work hard and beat Kenya,” he said.
Cosafa deputy chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda, a Malawian, said they deliberately scheduled the tournament just before the Olympic qualifiers to help the teams prepare.
“We know how tough it is to get strength-testing matches,” he said.
The Olympic qualifiers will identify two African teams which will represent the continent at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.