Malawi national football team Coach, Ronny van Geneugden (RVG), has said he expects an open contest in the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Castle Cup preliminary round, after being drawn alongside Angola, Mauritius and Botswana yesterday.
“We cannot say there is a team that is really a favourite in this group because we drew with Angola and Mauritius last year. Competition will certainly be high and it is very important that we should start with a big result in the competition.
“Last year, we started the tournament when most players were new but now they have gained experience. They are one-year older and more mature after playing more international games,” RVG said.
Esau Kanyenda, Cosafa legend for the Flames, said Botswana, Angola (three-time winners) and Mauritius have improved; hence, they cannot be underrated.
“We might think it is an easy group but it is not. The so-called small teams have improved but we do not seem to have improved. The coach should take a very strong team to Cosafa Cup and ensure sound preparations,” the 2002 Cosafa Castle Cup player of the series said.
The draw for the 18th edition of the regional soccer showpiece took place at Safa House in Johannesburg, South Africa, ahead of the kickoff of the event scheduled for Limpopo Province from May 27 to June 9 2018.
The Flames are in group B whereas pool A comprises Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros Islands and Seychelles, with the overall winner dating South Africa in the quarter-finals. Overall best team from Malawi’s group has holders Zimbabwe waiting in the quarter-finals.
It is the third consecutive time that the Flames, the 2002 and 2003 finalists, have been drawn in the same group with Mauritius and Angola.
Zimbabwe and South Africa were, due to their better rankings, seeded alongside Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia and Swaziland. Zambia will meet Namibia, with Lesotho dating Swaziland in the other quarter-final duels.
The Flames have never reached the semi-finals since 2003. Last year, Malawi bowed out of the competition without scoring after losing 2-0 to Tanzania and drawing 0-0 against Mauritius and Angola to finish bottom of the group with two points.
In the 2016 championship, Malawi, under Ernest Mtawali, bowed out after finishing on second place with six points, following 3-0 and 1-0 wins over Angola and Mauritius, before losing 1-0 to eventual group winners Lesotho.
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