By Mabvuto Kambuwe:
Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) has hailed member associations whose teams have made it to the group stages of 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifiers.
Malawi reached the group stages for the first time since 2010 after they knocked out Botswana with a 1-0 victory at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on Tuesday.
The Flames have joined Cosafa nations such as Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
In a statement, Cosafa Deputy Secretary General, Suzgo Nyirenda, says the regional football governing body is proud with the achievements of some of the teams in the region.
“Cosafa congratulates the Flames for making it to the group stages. Well done,” Nyirenda says.
Gerald Phiri Junior scored the lone goal from the penalty spot in the 80th minute of the preliminary round second leg match.
Flames Coach Meck Mwase delivered the much needed relief after many disappointing years in all competitions.
In his 10 games in charge of the Flames, Mwase has won four games, drawn four and lost twice on post-match penalties against Zambia and South Africa at the Cosafa Cup in South Africa.
His predecessor Belgian Ronny van Geneugden won two games, drew 11 and lost eight times in 21 games in charge.
Local coach Davie Mpima has, meanwhile, hailed Mwase for guiding the Flames to the group stages.
“We should not relax but it is time for us to continue focusing on preparations. The team is showing good signs, which is good for the nation,” he said.
The Flames, alongside other 13 teams, will join, in the group stages, 26 teams seeded from the preliminary round.
Malawi last made it to the group stages in 2007 during the joint 2010 World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers after finishing third in Group C to qualify for the Afcon finals in Angola.
But in 2014, the Flames were knocked out in the first round when they lost 2-1 on aggregate to Tanzania.