Performances by Malawi National Football Team opponents in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon have inspired Football Association of Malawi (Fam) to begin thinking about building a team capable of making an appearance at the Fifa World Cup.
Senegal and Morocco were in the same group as the Flames at the continental showpiece, with their matches being closely contested.
Malawi held a Sadio Mane-led Senegal to a goalless stalemate and narrowly lost 2-1 to Morocco in a match that saw Gabadinho Mhango scoring a goal which made it into Africa’s top three.
Senegal and Morocco are among the five teams currently representing Africa at the World Cup in Qatar, with the Teranga Lions making it into the last 16 after impressive performances in the group stage.
The Atlas Lions will also go through if they win, or draw, their final group match against Canada this evening.
Fam President Walter Nyamilandu said the performance of the two continental giants in Qatar is an indication of the Flames’ ability to compete well against the best.
“These are teams that sweated when we played against them in Cameroon. Senegal could not score against us and Morocco only managed a narrow win. Now these very teams are performing well in Qatar. This says something about our team.
“We just need to put things in order and we will surely find ourselves on the big stage. The same players that found the going tough against our team are on the world stage and are shining. So it is possible for the Flames to prove doubters wrong,” Nyamilandu said.
The Fam boss said he would explore opportunities that are there to help improve football in the country.
“I took advantage of my visit to Qatar to meet with those who can help our football develop further. One of them is Concacaf President Victor Montaglia. I had the opportunity to discuss with him prospects of training our coaches,” he said.
Football analyst George Kaudza Masina said the Flames are not far from the standards of Senegal and Morocco.
“We only lack the right resources and facilities to help us reach our full potential. We stood against Senegal and Morocco with a team dominated by home-based players. Our opponents deployed players who feature for top teams in Europe but our stars matched them pound-for-pound.
“All we need to do is strengthen our local structures so that our players can find markets in reputable European leagues. We can achieve this by improving our training facilities so that more of our players do not find anything strange when they face Europe-based opponents. Otherwise, we are just as good,” Kaudza Masina said.
Meanwhile, Nyamilandu has said he enjoyed the experience of being at the opening ceremony of the global contest in Qatar.
“Everything you can think of is just out of this world in Qatar. They are hosting this event in just one city. All the six match venues are in Doha and the transport systems are so efficient. The atmosphere in all the stadiums is just electric, with people from all over the world enjoying the fiesta,” he said.
The Fam boss said while there, he interacted with global football icons such as Fifa President Gianni Infantino and Ivory Coast, Manchester City legend Yaya Toure, Royal Belgian FA President Paul van den Bulck and Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o.