Confederation of African Football (CAF) has named five Malawian referees for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier between e-Swatini and Burkina Faso on June 7 at a venue to be announced.
The referees are Easter Zimba, Clemence Kanduku, Godfrey Khakananga, Edward Kambatuwa and Patrick Kapanga.
Zimba will be in charge of the Group B match while Kanduku will be first assistant and Kambatuwa will be second assistant. On the other hand, Nkhakananga will be the fourth official.
Kapanga has been deployed to Lusaka, Zambia as a match commissioner for a Group H match between Zambia and Comoros on the same day.
Football Association of Malawi competitions and communications director Gomegzani Zakazaka described the appointment as a welcome development.
“Officiating at top level is a good development for local referees. This is what we have always wanted. The standards of our referees can only grow if we are part of the continental and global tournaments. This is a great recognition from CAF,” he said.
In an interview, Zimba said it was an honour for him to be appointed centre referee for the second time since he became a Fifa referee two years ago.
He said: “I thank God for making this possible. I don’t take it for granted. It’s great news and honour to me, my colleagues and the nation at large.
“This shows that CAF has confidence in us, especially building from the last preliminary second leg match I officiated between Lesotho and Seychelles in March. This shows that we are making strides.”
In a related development, South African referee Abongile Thom will officiate the Flames’ Group D match against Ethiopia at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe on June 2.
His assistants will be Kgara Mokoena and Khamusi Razwimisani with Eugine Mdluli as the fourth official.
Gambian referees will be in charge of the Flames second match away to Guinea on June 6. Lamin Jammeh will be the centre referee with Sulayman Sosseh and Omar Darboe as first and second assistant referees respectively while Omar Sallah will be fourth official.
National Football Referees Association general secretary Chris Kalichere also commended CAF, saying this shows the confidence they have in Malawian referees.