By Mphatso Malidadi:
Malawi under-23 national football team coach, Meke Mwase, has called for proper planning and friendlies if his charges are to get past Zambia in the second round of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers.
Mwase said this on Tuesday after his charges drew 1-1 against Botswana at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre to qualify for the second round on 3-2 aggregate. Malawi won 2-1 away in the first round first leg match played in Gaborone on Saturday.
“I think the mother body [Football Association of Malawi (Fam)] knows that we have qualified for the next stage and we would like to have proper preparations. We are playing against Zambia, who are a very good team. But we are also equally good. I would like us to play many friendlies. We never played friendly matches in preparation for the game against Botswana. Maybe, they [Fam] didn’t know that we would have this competition,” Mwase said.
The Afcon games would also serve as qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Meanwhile, Fam President, Walter Nyamilandu, said they want the team to regroup early ahead of the two-legged games against Zambia next March.
“It should be noted that most under-23 players are seniors at club level and securing friendlies depends on the availability of teams during Fifa-sanctioned dates.
“The under-23 qualifiers, unlike those for the under-20 and 17, are being scheduled during Fifa international breaks. The next Fifa break is in March 2019 and that is the week we will play Zambia. But we will try our best to explore opportunities to play friendlies before we face Zambia,” he said.
During Tuesday’s match, Peter Banda replaced injured Patrick Phiri at the start of the second half and scored in the 62nd minute before Botswana equalised in added time through Gape Mohutsiwa.
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