Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) and eSwatini Football Association (Efa) have given assurances of their readiness for the Under-20 Cosafa Cup, which kicks off in eSwatini Friday.
The two bodies held a media briefing to give an update on their state of readiness ahead of the highly anticipated youth competition.
This is the first time eSwatini is hosting the regional developmental competition which serves as a qualifier to next year’s TotalEnergies Afcon Under-20 finals in Egypt.
The top four finishers at the continental showpiece will secure a place at the 2023 Fifa Under-20 World Cup in Indonesia.
Speaking from the Efa headquarters in Mbabane on Tuesday afternoon, Cosafa Secretary General Sue Destombes expressed full satisfaction with the state of the Local Organising Committee’s readiness.
Destombes said the committee had been working closely with Cosafa over the last few months to ensure a seamless execution of the competition.
“We are quite satisfied with the preparations done so far ahead of the tournament. Hosting such a tournament involves a number of logistical factors that can never be compromised such as hotels, transport and quality stadia. As things stand, we are gearing to host a very special and successful tournament along with all our partners,” a confident Destombes said.
Efa Chief Executive Officer Frederick Mngomezulu thanked Cosafa for continuously supporting and guiding them.
Mngomezulu said they expect the competition to yield a positive economic spin-off for the association and the people of eSwatini.
“Given that we have just come out of a challenging period which affected the economy globally, hosting such a competition could not have come at a better time. The whole economic spectrum is going to benefit. Firstly, the tourism sector will leverage from the game of football through the usage of hotels.
“The movement of people and fans also brings forth a positive economic improvement to local transport. Government also has its own roadmaps in terms of utilising our economy which we, as a football family and association, believe will benefit at large,” an elated Mngomezulu said.
Malawi are in Group C of the developmental competition alongside South Africa, Comoros and Namibia.
The junior Flames’ first match at the tournament is against South Africa at Somhlololo Stadium on Saturday.
They will then take on Comoros two days later before wrapping up their group assignment with a showdown against Namibia on October 12.
Speaking before departure for eSwatini Wednesday, Malawi coach Patrick Mabedi said selecting the final squad was not an easy task.
“Everyone did well in training. We have had very good preparations in the last three weeks that we have been in camp. We had four test matches which helped us assess our shortfalls and worked on them ahead of the tournament.
“Our target is to win the first game then fight and win the next two games because what happens in the other games will depend on our performance in the first game. So we are going there to make sure that we don’t concede but score more goals,” Mabedi told Football Association of Malawi’s website.