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Beach soccer team regroups for Afcon

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Malawi National Beach Soccer Team has started preparations for the 2022 Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations slated for October 21 to 28 in Vilankulo, Mozambique.

The team was drawn in Group A alongside hosts Mozambique, Morocco and Nigeria.

Coach Willy Kumilambe has named a 22-member provisional squad which is undergoing camp training in Salima District.

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Kumilambe said he has beefed up his squad ahead of the finals.

“We need all our top players for this competition. We went around scouting for more talent and things are going according to plan.

“The response from the players has been very encouraging and they are eager to impress. We have assembled a very good squad that is going to Mozambique to compete,” he said.

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Some of the top players in the squad are captain Sandram Saddi, Isaac Kajamu, Arnold Lasten, Massey Mussa and Blessings Likupe.

Five goalkeepers are fighting for places in the final squad as Malawi look forward to their maiden appearance at the continental showpiece.

The goalkeepers are Justin Phiri, Eddie Jamu, Ishmael Gaye, Mussa Hadji and Omar Rajab.

Also battling for selection are strikers Afiki Bakali, Charles Ndovie, Frazer Phiri Junior, James Chikoka and Witness Chimbiri.

Malawi missed out on a chance to prepare well for the continental showpiece after pulling out of the 2022 Cosafa Beach Soccer tournament which is underway in Durban, South Africa.

The first match for Malawi will be against hosts Mozambique to mark the official opening of the competition on October 20.

Malawi face Morocco in their second match before wrapping up with a showdown against Nigeria.

Two teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals.

Beach Soccer Association president Gift Chimbalanga said the team will leave earlier to play friendlies in Mozambique.

Former Malawi beach soccer national team captain Bothwell Saka said the team is capable of pulling a surprise at the finals.

“Malawi is going there as underdogs but they have talented players who are capable of upsetting any team,’’ Saka, who was part of the Malawi team that won silver at the 2015 Cosafa Beach Soccer cup, said.

Champions and runners-up of this year’s competition in Mozambique will qualify for the 2023 Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup.

Malawi made it to the finals on the away goals rule after an 8-8 stalemate with Tanzania.

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