Football Association of Malawi (FAM) was part of the planning stage of a four-nation mini tournament involving South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola and hosts Zambia later this month, The Nation has learnt.
However, by the time the mini-tournament was confirmed, FAM had already committed to play an international friendly against Uganda on March 27 according to FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda.
He said the idea was mooted at Confederation of African Football (CAF) congress in Morocco between general secretaries of the Cosafa region associations with the aim of utilising the two Fifa dates to play at least two matches, .
“It took time for the tournament to be confirmed and by the time this was done, we had already committed to play an away international match against Uganda in Kampala. We could not withdraw from the Uganda friendly as that would be unprofessional.”
The four-nation tournament will be staged at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
Zambia will take on Zimbabwe in the first semi-final match, a replay of the 2017 Cosafa Cup final that was won by the Warriors.
On the other hand, South Africa and Angola will meet in the second semi-final, with both matches to be played on March 22. The third-place play-off and final will be played on March 25.
The four sides want to use the mini-tournament to prepare for the Cosafa Cup to be staged from May 27-June 9, and the African Nations Cup (Afcon) qualifiers later in September.
Malawi’s Flames will participate in both Cosafa and Afcon qualifiers.
FAM’s explanation comes after soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda noted that the Flames could have gained a lot if they had participated in the tournament since all teams are expected to bring strong squads.