The Malawi women national soccer team has been drawn alongside old rivals Zambia in the first round of the 2017 COSAFA Women’s Championship during a draw on Wednesday which produced some mouth-watering clashes.
Madagascar and Zimbabwe will join Malawi and Zambia in Group A in what is expected to be a tightly-contested group.
East African guest nation Kenya head up Group B, where they will face Mauritius, Mozambique and Swaziland in another pool that will be tough to predict.
Three-time winners South Africa are in Group C along with neighbors Namibia, Lesotho and Botswana.
The competition will be played across two venues in Bulawayo, the Barbourfields Stadium and Luveve Stadium, and will get underway on September 13.
The opening match will see Namibia take on Botswana (kick-off 10h30), before two clashes in Group A as Zambia take on Malawi (14h00) and Zimbabwe clash with Madagascar (16h30).
All of the matches in Group A will take place at Barbourfields Stadium, while all Group B games will be at Luveve Stadium.
However, matches in Group C will be evenly split between the two venues.
The teams play each other in a round-robin format with the pool winners and best-placed runner-up advancing to the semifinals, which will be played on September 21.
The final will be played three days later on September 24, with the bronze-medal game played the day before.
With 12 teams competing this year, it is the biggest ever field assembled for the COSAFA Women’s Championship and shows the tremendous growth in women’s football in the last decade.
Zimbabwe will be the defending championships having won the last tournament played on home soil in 2011, while South Africa claimed victory in the three tournaments before that played in 2002, 2006 and 2008.