By Mabvuto Kambuwe:
Malawi’s representatives in Confederation of African Football (Caf) club competitions Nyasa Big Bullets and Masters Security have reacted differently to Sunday evening’s Champions League and Confederation Cup draw.
The draw took place at Caf Headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, two days after Algeria won the Africa Cup of Nations.
The lots pitted Bullets against Zimbabwe’s FC Platinum in Champions League whereas Masters have been drawn against newly promoted Proline FC of Uganda in the Confederation Cup.
Champions League matches are scheduled for August 9 to 11, with Bullets hosting the Zimbabwean side first before travelling for the return leg on August 23 or 25.
Masters will play their Confederation Cup matches between September 13 and15 and September 27 and 29.
The Champions League contest has put Bullets Coach Kallisto Pasuwa on a collision course with fellow Zimbabwean, Norman Mapeza.
Mapeza and Pasuwa are former Zimbabwe national team coaches.
The winner between Bullets and Platinum will face either Simba of Tanzania or Mozambique’s UD Songo in the second round before proceeding to the group stages.
Bullets also took part in last year’s event but lost 4-3 to Kenyan giants Gor Mahia after a 1-1 aggregate draw.
Platinum won the Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League title last season with two games to spare after collecting 74 points.
They reached the group stages of the Caf Champions League last season but failed to progress after finishing bottom in their group.
Meanwhile, Pasuwa has said the draw puts pressure on him to outwit his countrymen.
“I was not expecting to be drawn against Platinum considering that they are from my home country. That makes it a bit difficult for me as a coach. It comes with a lot of pressure for me as well as the Platinum camp.
“But that is the name of the game. Sometimes you meet opponents that you would have wanted to avoid. It is now up to us as a team to plan and come out victorious. Platinum are good but we are going to fight with our lives,” Pasuwa said.
Masters Coach, Abasi Makawa, described the draw as fair, saying his charges just needed thorough preparations.
“We can do well this time if we prepare well. We have good players who can excel at that level. We hope that, by the time we play our games, the players will be mentally ready,” Makawa said.
The struggling Lilongwe-based side first participated in the competition in 2017 when it exited in the preliminary round after a 5-0 aggregate loss to Petro de Luanda of Angola.
Malawi Football Coaches Association General Secretary, Davie Mpima, said the two Malawian teams should put much focus on preparations.
“Both teams should set targets for themselves as they go into this tournament. I am just concerned with internal problems at Masters but there is time for them to work on the problems and come back stronger before the games commence,” Mpima said.
According to Ugandan publication New Vision, Proline were promoted to the top flight league this year and also took part in the Cecafa Club Championship in Rwanda recently.
The Uganda side has also beefed up its squad with four players, namely Bernard Muwanga from KCCA, Yusuf Mukisa from SC Villa, Andrew Okiring and goalkeeper Shatif Mangoola.
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