With slightly over a month before Malawi hosts the 2019 Cosafa Under-17 championship, Football Association of Malawi has embarked on a talent identification exercise.
FAM technical director (TD) John Kaputa said only five players from the Under-17 that participated in last year’s competition are eligible while the others are overage; hence, the decision to identify new players.
Two hundred players—50 from each region (North, South, Centre and Eastern) were shortlisted for the exercise.
The number has been chopped to 20 from each region to form regional select teams which competed in a mini tournament at Chiwembe’s Mpira Stadium on Sunday.
“We have the players, but we don’t have a team. Most of the players are from Fifa/FAM Under-15 League. So, what we are doing is to pick the best from the best to from the team that will compete in the Cosafa Under-17 Championship,” said Kaputa.
The TD said 40 out of the 80 players that participated in the mini tournament on Sunday will make it into the final squad that will go into camp in preparation for the Cosafa Under-17 Championship.
“Though we started age-screening from the regions, the 40 players selected will also undergo MRI
[magnetic resonance imaging]
age test,” said Kaputa.
Malawi will host the tournament in September and the local organising committee has settled for Blantyre’s Kamuzu and Mpira stadiums for the competition.
FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda said hosting the tournament is an opportunity for the country to expose its talent and increase its chances of winning the competition by utilising home advantage.
“This is a great opportunity for the development processes that FAM is undertaking in youth football and indeed an opportunity for the Malawian football family to see and support the future of Malawi football in a regional competition at home,” he said.
Mauritius has been hosting the tournament for the past three years.
Angola are defending champions.
Malawi failed to reach the knockout stage after finishing second in Group C.
Zambia won the tournament in 2016 while Namibia were 2017 champions.
Malawi won the tournament in 2001 when they last hosted the competition after beating South Africa 3-0.