The Flames will know their opponents in the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers on January 21 2020 when a CAF draw for the preliminary second round will take place at Ritz Carton Hotel in Cairo, Egypt.
Meanwhile, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has put the Flames in pot four alongside fellow lower-ranked teams Angola, Togo, Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Liberia and Djibouti ahead of the draw.
Pot one, which has highest ranked African teams, comprises Senegal, Tunisia, Nigeria, Algeria, Morocco, Ghana, Egypt, Cameroon, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Pot two has Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Guinea, Uganda, Cape Verde, Gabon, Benin, Zambia and Congo while pot three comprises Madagascar, Mauritania, Libya, Mozambique, Kenya, Central Africa Republic, Zimbabwe, Niger, Namibia and Guinea-Bissau.
A media release on Fifa website, www.fifa.com, shows that the draw will see 14 winners of round one, including the Flames, joining 26 top-seeded African teams to form 10 four-team groups. The group winners will advance to third round qualifiers.
“The second-round of Africa’s qualifiers will kick off in March 2020 and will conclude in October 2021,” the release explains.
Round three, scheduled for November 2021, will see the 10 group winners paired up for knockout matches, with the five winners securing a berth at the finals in Qatar between November 21 and December 18 2022.
Football Association of Malawi general secretary Alfred Gunda yesterday said the local football governing body is putting everything in place to ensure the Flames are ready for battle.
“Preparations are ongoing; if you have noted, the national team coach [Meck Mwase] has been going around looking at how players are performing at their respective clubs. On the financial side, we have a commitment. We are prepared to see what the draw brings to know our opponents and plan how to tackle the challenge,” he said.
The Flames advanced to the second round after beating Botswana’s Zebras 1-0 on aggregate after a two-legged tie.