Flames face eSwatini in Chan qualifiers

 

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-Malawi national football team will face eSwatini in the first round of the 2020 African Nations Championship (Chan) Southern Zone qualifiers.

Finals of the competition, which is for home-based players, will take place in Ethopia.

The Flames were pitted against the kingdom nation during Confederation of African Football (Caf)’s draw conducted on Wednesday.

The Flames will begin their campaign away at a date to be announced, before hosting the return leg a week later.

Malawi assistant Coach, Peter Mponda, described the draw as fair.

Mponda told The Daily Times that Chan tournament is important as it would boost confidence of local-based players in international games.

“We have not been doing well in this competition. We have failed to go beyond the first or second round and this has not been good for us. But we gained experience from what happened and we are stronger now.

“We have a new team and if we continue playing regularly, the players will gel quickly. We have been singing a song that we are building a team for far too long and Malawians are now tired of it. They just need results and this is the time to make them happy,”Mponda said.

Should the Flames progress, they will face Angola in the second round of the competition.

Only three teams will qualify from the Southern Zone.

National Coaches Association General Secretary, Davie Mpima, said the Flames need good preparations to advance in the continental contest.

“We need good preparations. In addition to that, we should also set targets for ourselves. We need to have a team which is able to score goals. We also have to feature players in their right positions. Deploying players in positions they are not comfortable with works against the team,” Mpima said.

The Flames have never qualified for the finals of the competition. They were knocked out of the tournament in the first round in 2017 when they lost 2-0 to Madagascar on aggregate, having lost home and away matches by 1-0 margins.

The two games were Ronny van Geneugden’s first competitive matches after being appointed the Flames coach in April 2017.

Geneugden has struggled to find the perfect balance for the team, having only registered two victories, eight losses and 10 draws.

It is likely that the majority of Malawi under-23 players scheduled to face Zambia in the 2020 Olympic Qualifiers in March would be part of the squad in the Chan campaign.

It is yet to be seen if, at all, the Flames will rise to the occasion after failing to beat low ranking teams such as Mauritius last year

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