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Flames date Lesotho in Cosafa Cup opener

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Mario Marian Marinica

Malawi National Football Team, the Flames, will start the 2022 Cosafa Cup campaign against Lesotho on July 6 at King Zwelithini Stadium in Durban, South Africa.

This follows the fixture which Council for Southern Africa Football Association (Cosafa) released Friday, three days after the draw was conducted.

The Flames, who are in Group B, will face Eswatini at the same venue two days later in the second match of the tournament before wrapping up the group stages with Mauritius on July 10 at Princess Magogo Stadium.

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Group A comprises Botswana, Seychelles, Angola and Comoros Islands. Seychelles and Botswana will kick start the 2022 tournament at King Zwelithini on July 5 before the match between Angola and Comoros later on the day.

Only one team from each group will qualify for the quarterfinals to join seeded teams, namely South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, Senegal, Madagascar and Mozambique.

The quarterfinals will be played from July 13 at Princess Magogo Stadium.

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Group B winner will meet Senegal in the quarterfinals with Group A winner taking on Zambia.

In other quarterfinal matches, Madagascar will meet Namibia whereas South Africa will face Mozambique.

After the draw on Tuesday, Flames coach Marian Mario Marinica said he knows a lot about the opponents ahead of the tournament.

“All the three teams are very good. Lesotho got a good result against Ivory Coast, Eswatini recently managed to get good results against Mozambique. As for Mauritius I was working for Indian Ocean games in 2019 and they have some good players,” Marinica said.

Malawi defeated Lesotho by 1-0 margins in 2005 and 2009 but lost by a similar margin in 2016. Mauritius and Malawi have met three times. But they have shared fortunes after winning one match each by 1-0 margin but the other match ended in 0-0 stalemate.

Malawi and Eswatini have only met once at Cosafa Cup but the Flames lost 1-0 in 2007.

Sports analyst Sherry Msuku said the Flames have chances to progress to the quarterfinals.

“The first game against Lesotho is very important. We should fight for a win,’’ Msuku said.

Since the Cosafa Cup was introduced in 1997, the Flames have never won it despite reaching the finals twice in 2002 and 2003.

Last year, Malawi failed to register a victory in four matches having lost two and two draws.

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