Flames get Afcon seed

Malawi national football team, the Flames, have been seeded in the 2021 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualification campaign.

The Flames will join the qualifiers in group stage in October after Confederation of African Football (CAF) used the June Fifa ranking to seed teams into five levels.

Ranked 126, Malawi falls in the third level, according to a statement from the continental football governing body.

The draw for the qualifiers will  be held on July 18 at a CAF general assembly in Cairo, Egypt where Malawi will be in pot three.

Malawi’s Gomezgani Chirwa (L) in action against Mozambique at Cosafa Cup

Other countries in the pot are Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Central Africa Republic, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Angola, Togo, Sudan and Tanzania.

Pot one has Africa’s 12 giants, namely Cameroon, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Mali, Ivory Coast and Algeria.

On the other hand, Uganda Cranes, Guinea, South Africa, Cape Verde, Zambia, Benin, Gabon, Congo, Mauritania, Niger and Libya are in pot two.

Burundi, Rwanda, Equatorial Guinea, E-Swatini (formerly Swaziland), Lesotho, Botswana, Comoros and Ethiopia are the seeded teams in pot four.

The last pot has lowly-ranked teams such Liberia, Mauritius, Gambia, South Sudan, Chad, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles and Djibouti.

“There will be 12 groups of four teams each [Group A to L]. The first two teams in each group at the end of the qualifying round will make it to the final tournament that will be hosted in 2021 by Cameroon,” reads a statement from CAF.

Flames coach Meke Mwase said the seeding is a motivation.

“Unlike starting from the preliminary round, we have more chances of progressing if we start from group stage. Lets wait and see which teams we will get after the next week draw,” the coach said.

Malawi, which last made it to Afcon finals in 2010 in Angola, failed to make it to the Afcon final underway in Egypt under coach Ronny Van Geneugden after finishing on posistion three with five points.

Morocco and Cameroon made it from the Malawi group as leaders and runners-up, respectively, while Comoros were table anchors at five points.

Meanwhile, there is uncertainty on when the 2022 World Cup qualifiers draw will be conducted.

Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary Alfred Gunda said Fifa is yet to announce the date for the draw despite the qualifiers being just a month away.

 “After Afcon preferred not to combine 2021 Cameroon Afcon and 2022 Qatar World Cup qualification, it was announced that the draw will be held this month almost the same time with that of CAF which will follow the Egypt Afcon finals.

“But up to now we have not been told when this will happen. We are still checking if the date for the World Cup draw is stated yet,” he said.

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