Malawi national football team, the Flames, will on Monday start preparations for the 2021 Cosafa Cup to be staged in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa from July 7 to 18.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) competitions and communications director Gomezgani Zakazaka said the technical panel will release the squad for the regional competition by Friday.
However, the association is keeping fingers crossed that head coach Meck Mwase and first assistant coach Lovemore Fazili, who are in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19, will recover in time.
Said Zakazaka: “The two coaches have been in isolation and had no symptoms. They will be re-tested today and if they are negative, they will join the squad on Monday.”
In the absence of the two coaches, the Flames have been under physical fitness coach Bob Mpinganjira, who took the team to Tanzania where Malawi lost 2-0 to Taifa Stars in an international friendly.
Meanwhile, assistant coach Lovemore Fazili said they will target TNM Super League players for the tournament.
He said: “Since the Cosafa Cup is not played during Fifa calendar dates, we do not expect much from foreign-based players. So, it will mainly be local players.”
Malawi is in Group B alongside Zambia’s Chipolopolo who frustrated the Flames dreams of making it to the finals in the last edition of the regional tournament, which returns after a year’s break due to Covid-19.
For the first time since 2015, the Flames made it to the quarter-finals in 2019 unbeaten.
The Flames are expected to use the tournament to prepare for the upcoming Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers and the Africa Cup of Nations finals.
“This will be a very crucial tournament as it will help us to gauge our performance for the two competitions,” said Fazili.
According to a statement from Cosafa, the top team in each group and the best placed runner-up will advance to the semi-finals in what is a change in formation for the tournament this year.