Malawi National Football Team, the Flames, will start the Cosafa Cup campaign against Madagascar on July 7 at Isaac Wolfson Stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
The Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) released the fixtures for this year’s event Tuesday.
The Flames, who were drawn in Group B, will meet Comoros Islands on July 10 at the same venue before wrapping up the group stages with a match against Zambia on July 13 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The Flames are expected to regroup on Monday next week to start preparing for the event.
Cosafa announced Tuesday that the competition would start a day earlier than originally planned, with eSwatini and Lesotho kicking off the tournament at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Hosts South Africa and Botswana will meet at the same venue later on the same day.
Cosafa announced that all Covid preventive protocols would be adhered to during the tournament.
“The bio-bubble environment is critical to ensure the safety of the teams. Cosafa, along with valued partners South African Football Association, have successfully implemented the blue print for these during four tournaments that were held in Nelson Mandela Bay towards the end of 2020,” reads the statement from Cosafa.
Cosafa Cup returns this year under a new format after the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.
Flames coach Meck Mwase was not available Tuesday. Each team will play a minimum of three matches. Malawi, who finished as Plate Competition runners-up in 2019, will use the Cosafa Cup as part of preparations for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in September, October and November.
Only group winner in each group and one best-runner-up will progress to the semifinals of the competition.
The Flames have never won the Cosafa Cup since its inception. Zimbabwe have won it six times followed by Zambia, five times. South Africa have won it four times whereas Angola grabbed on three occasions, with Namibia winning it once.
Group A comprises hosts South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana and eSwatini whereas Group C has guest nation Senegal, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia.