Salima Secondary School and Zomba-based Malindi Girls Secondary School football teams say they are more than ready to make Malawi proud as the inaugural Cosafa qualifiers for CAF African Schools Football Championship roll into action at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe this Saturday.
The two school teams will carry the country’s flag in their respective boys and girls Under-15 sections following their success at national level and will battle for continental slots against their counterparts from Sychelles, South Africa, Comoros, Botswana and Angola.
Salima Secondary School head coach Foster Chipeta and his Malindi Girls counterpart Masemo Banda on Wednesday said they have left no stone unturned in their preparations as they leave their respective camps for Lilongwe today.
Chipeta said: “After two weeks of camping at our school, we are ready for battle. The morale is high as the players are aware of the great opportunities this competition provides such as international exposure.”
Banda said Malindi Girls are physically, mentally and spiritually ready after performing well in the six friendly games in the past few months. The team won four, drew one and lost one.
“As we speak, we have sharpened all departments. We are sharp in attack and we are hard to penetrate at the back. For instance, we managed to beat Kings Ladies team 10-0 and we conceded not more than a goal in the other matches. We will be a team to watch in Lilongwe,” he said.
Meanwhile, the two teams said they are happy that the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has equipped them ahead of the three-day football fiesta with uniforms, boots and tracksuits.
FAM competitions and communications director Gomezgani Zakazaka yesterday said the country is excited to host the tournament, which will be patronised by Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Patrice Motsepe, and they are hopeful that Malawi’s flag carriers will not disappoint.
“We feel privileged to host the inaugural qualifiers of this prestigious schools tournament. We are excited to welcome the schools to Malawi and we are confident our ambassadors will make us proud,” he said
Zakazaka also said Sychelles’ representatives arrived on Tuesday while those from Angola, Comoros and Botswana will be in Malawi today. South Africa ambassadors will be the last to jet in tomorrow. Motsepe whose foundation is sponsoring the tournament, is expected to arrive on Saturday.
Meanwhile, teams from Mozambique and Zambia have withdrawn from the competition.
Before the games, there will be a number of off-pitch activities, including workshops for young referees, coaches and reporters.
The competition’s opening ceremony will be conducted from 10am on Saturday before the first match of the day.