Under-17 coach admits tough Cosafa draw
By Mabvuto Kambuwe:
Malawi under-17 national football team Coach, Deklerk Msakakuona, has admitted that the junior Flames have been handed a tough draw for the Cosafa Championship slated for October 11 to 20 in Blantyre.
The junior Flames are in Group A alongside familiar foes South Africa, Zambia and Botswana.
The draw for the tournament, which Msakakuona attended, took place at Cosafa House in Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday.
In an interview from South Africa, Msakakuona admitted that pressure would be on the home side following the draw.
“It is a very tough group for all the teams, not only Malawi. But we will be playing at home so we have to show great character and do better than last year. We should not underrate one another because football has changed and all teams have improved a lot,” Msakakuona said.
He believes his charges have what it takes to win the regional youth championship, having achieved that in 2001 when they defeated South Africa 4-1 in the final.
“We just need to focus on our preparations so that we should be ready for any team. If there is a chance to play friendly games, it will be great for the players because they will gain experience,” Msakakuona said.
Malawi and Zambia also met during the 2017 edition in Mauritius but the junior Flames lost 2-0 in the semi-finals.
In that edition, Malawi beat South Africa 2-1 in a third-place play-off to claim bronze in 2017.
The junior Flames recently participated in Federation of East Africa Secondary Schools Sports Association (Feassa) where they lost three games, including 8-0 loss to Uganda, 3-1 to Tanzania and 2-1 to Kenya.
However, Msakauona downplayed the losses.
One of the local coaches, Millias Pofera, also described the draw as tough.
“We are supposed to prepare well; otherwise, we will embarrass ourselves. They have just assembled the team so they need to do more in terms of preparations,” Pofera said.
Group B comprises holders Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique and Comoros Island.
Meanwhile, Football Association of Malawi (Fam) has submitted Malawi government guarantee on hosting of the tournament to Cosafa secretariat.
Cosafa Deputy General Secretary, Suzgo Nyirenda, confirmed that Fam had submitted the guarantee.
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