Malawi Under-17 National Football Team will start the Total Energies Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Cosafa Zone qualifiers against Botswana on December 2 in Lilongwe at a venue yet to be confirmed.
The hosts are hoping to win the regional title for the second time having won it in 2001 on home soil.
According to a fixture which Cosafa released recently, the junior Flames will then face Namibia in the last Group A match two days later.
The Group B match between holders Angola and South Africa will kick-start the qualifiers in an early kick off.
Last year’s runners-up Zambia will face Mozambique in Group C on December 3.
Malawi regrouped on Monday in preparation for the tournament which will be played during the Africa Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games from December 2-11 in Lilongwe.
Coach DeKlerk Msakakuona told Cosafa’s website that he is confident that his charges will shine on home soil.
“Malawi does do well sometimes in these age-group tournaments. So we must prepare well and plan what to do this time. It has been 20 years now since Malawi last won this championship, so we have to do our best if we want to repeat the feat,” Msakakuona was quoted as saying.
Three group winners and one best runner-up will advance to the semi-finals.
The finalists will qualify for the African Youth Championship in Algeria next year.
Malawi last qualified for the continental championship in this age bracket in 2009 when it was also hosted by Algeria.
The junior Flames performed well at the tournament and went on to qualify for the 2010 World Youth Championship in Nigeria.
Sports analyst Sherry Msuku said Malawi have an advantage playing at home.
’’These are young boys. So we should avoid giving them too much pressure. Let them enjoy themselves. This is time for the players to showcase their skills and they should not be stopped from doing so,” Msuku said.
Malawi finished third during the last edition of the Region 5 Games in Maseru, Lesotho, after beating eSwatini 4-0 in the bronze match.