Flames coach Mario Marinica has remained at Hollywoodbets Cosafa Cup to ‘spy’ on Malawi’s potential opponents in Africa Nations Championship (Chan), Mozambique and Zambia.
The Flames were drawn against Zimbabwe, but following a Fifa ban on the Warriors which is yet to be lifted less than two weeks before the qualifiers kick-off, Malawi is tipped to progress to the second round where they will face the winner between Mozambique’s Mambas and Zambia’s Chipolopolo.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) competitions and communications director Gomezgani Zakazaka confirmed in an interview that the coach will remain in South Africa until the end of the tournament to watch the two team’s matches.
He said: “Both Zambia and Mozambique have brought here squads of local players only. Obviously, these are the same players that they will use in Chan.
“The coach has, therefore, taken advantage of his presence here to watch the potential opponents.
“We believe this will give him an opportunity to study their tactics in advance.”
The Chan first legs in the opening round of qualifiers will be played between July 22 and 24 with the second legs scheduled for July 29 to 31.
The second round will start with the first legs between August 26 and 28 and the return fixtures from September 2 to 4, with the three winners of the second round ties advancing to the finals in Algeria.
Zambia were taking on Botswana at King Zwelithini Stadium in the Cosafa Cup quarter-finals as we went to press while the Mambas will face hosts and defending champions South Africa this evening in the last quarter-final at the same venue.
In the event that the Mambas and Chipolopolo lose their quarter-final matches, they will play in Plate competition.
Majority of the teams at the regional tournament have used it to prepare for Chan which features local players only.
Marinica handed debuts to six local players in preparation for the Chan qualifiers, namely Dan Chimbalanga, Kelvin Kadzinje, Clever Nkungula, Patrick Mwaungulu, Blessings Mpokela and Lloyd Njaliwa.
The coach also recalled veterans Chiukepo Msowoya and Sankhani Mkandawire.
Marinica said in an interview that he was satisfied with the performance of local players.
He said: “They have done okay particularly the two centres backs Paul Ndhlovu and Kelvin Kadzinje and also the goalkeeper Clever Mkungula. I am happy with them.”
Malawi has never qualified for the Chan tournament which was introduced in 2007 to promote local players.