Confederation of African Football (CAF) has revised the format of the Africa Schools Championship which kicked off yesterday in Durban, South Africa, following two teams’ failure to show up for the inaugural tournament.
Salima Secondary School from Malawi are one of the teams taking part in the four-day event.
Initially, seven teams, drawn in two groups, were expected to take part in the tournament, but Football Association of Malawi (FAM) technical officer for the Central Region McWilliams Nkunika said in an interview yesterday that following the reduction of teams to five, the tournament will now be played on a round robin format with the top four teams qualifying for the semi-finals.
Salima started their campaign with a one-all draw against hosts South Africa’s Clapham High School in the morning before going down 2-0 to Ceg Sainte Rita of Benin in the afternoon.
Against the host side, the Malawi flag carriers scored in the eighth minute through vice-captain Alex Sakala, but Clapham High equalised moments later.
In an interview after the two matches, Salima coach Joseph Kaunda said after a bright start against the hosts, his charges gave their Benin opponents too much respect in the second game.
He said: “We played well in the first game, but we lost the plot in the second match.
“We created a number of good scoring chances, but failed to make good use of them and in the end, we were punished.”
Kaunda also claimed that their opponents fielded over-aged players.
“Even the spectators booed our opponents after noting they looked older. Nevertheless, we are moving on and we hope for better resuts in our next assignments.”
The continental final will be played on Saturday with the eventual winner taking home $300 000 (about K310.8 million). Runners-up will receive $200 000 (about K207.2 million) while third-placed team will get $150 000 (about K155.4 million).
Initially, Salima did not qualify for the continental championship after finishing as runners-up to Clapham during the Cosafa Zone qualifier as only the winners made the grade. However, they were roped in following Clapham’s automatic qualification as hosts.
The championship is an eight-a-side event that has games played on a half-pitch. The goal posts are also smaller with matches lasting 40 minutes.
Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Patrice Motsepe is sponsoring the competition to the tume of K10 billion as an investment for the future of football on the continent.