Malawi representatives in the 2018 Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) competitions—Be Forward Wanderers and Masters Security—were on Wednesday handed tough opponents following a draw conducted in Cairo, Egypt.
The Nomads have been paired against Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) giants Association Sportive Vita Club, commonly known as AS Vita whereas Masters Security were drawn against Atlético Petróleos de Luanda of Angola.
The first legs of the matches will be played between February 9 and 11 while the second legs will be played between February 16 and 18.
Reacting to the draw, Wanderers chairperson Gift Mkandawire was not surprised.
He said: “We did not expect to be paired against a weak side. Champions League is for the best. We will hoist Malawi flag.”
Nomads captain Joseph Kamwendo, who had a stint with DRC national league champions and former CAF Champions League winners TP Mazembe between 2013 and 2015, was also unperturbed.
He said: “It will be a very good game, knowing exactly how they play. It’s a very good side just like TP Mazembe, but we can beat them because we are also a good side.”
The Kinshasa-based outfit are seasonal campaigners in the Champions League.
The club has eight appearances from 1971 to 1995 and six from 1998 to date. They won the championship in 1973 and finished as runners-up in 2014.
Masters Security’s opponents, Atletico, have also been competing in CAF competitions and reached Champions League semi-finals in 2001.
Commenting on the draw, Masters Security general secretary Zacharia Nyirenda said they welcomed the draw.
“Chagwa m’mbale n’chomwecho. We will take them as they come,” he said.
With a return air ticket to both DR Congo and Angola slightly below K1 million, both Wanderers and Masters have to budget about K25 million for air tickets alone and hope to strike a deal that their hosts should pay for accommodation so that they can reciprocate in return fixtures.
Former Football Association Malawi (FAM) general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda, who is now Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) deputy chief executive officer, said the teams can each survive on K50 million budget for both home and away matches.
“I am really happy that at least Malawi will have representation in these competitions. I would advise the two teams to discuss with FAM and make a budget. FAM can help to negotiate for the air tickets and accommodation,” he said.
Nyasa Big Bullets were the last team to compete in a CAF tournament when they participated in the Champions League in 2014 which left them with a pile of debts in the excess K30 million. They failed to make it past the first round.
Bullets also reached the last eight in the African showpiece in 2004 when they were sponsored by former president Bakili Muluzi.