Malawi Under-17 national football team coach Deklerk Msakakuona has said he is impressed with the fitness levels of the players ahead of the Cosafa Youth Championship slated for November 9-29 in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa.
The Junior Flames started Cosafa Cup preparations at Mpira Village in Blantyre on Thursday.
Msakakuona called up a 44-member squad for the two-day pre-camp training and he was expected to trim the squad to 30 players ahead of the main camp which starts tomorrow in Lilongwe.
The former Blue Eagles coach said the players were fit and he would focus on their technique after the main camp in Lilongwe.
“The players are in good shape fitness wise and it shows that they have been training on their own. But they are lacking coordination. We don’t have enough time but we will try to squeeze our programme to ensure we get them in shape by the time we will be going to the tournament,” Msakakuona said.
For a fourth consecutive year, Msakakuona will lead the team in the Cosafa Cup as the junior Flames were drawn in Group B alongside Zambia, Botswana and Comoros Islands.
A total of eight teams will take part in the competition which will see top two teams in each group advancing to the semifinals. Group A comprises South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe and eSwatini. Malawi will start the competition with Botswana at Gelvandale Stadium on November 20 before facing Zambia two days later at the same venue and will wrap up the group stages against Comoros on November 25 November at Isaac Wolfson Stadium.
Last year, U-17 also exited in the group stages when Malawi hosted the tournament. Malawi’s best ever finish in the Cosafa Youth Championship was in 2001 as they won it after beating South Africa 3-0. Malawi Under-17 also won bronze medal in 2017 in Mauritius.