Malawi U-17 is targeting two wins in the upcoming round robin matches following 2020 COSAFA U-17 Championship reset due to the disqualification of four teams, head coach Dekrerk Msakakuona says.
On Friday, Botswana, Comoros Islands, Eswatini and Zimbabwe were disqualified from the 2020 COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship on the basis of fielding over-age players.
Their punishment will see them miss the next two Africa Under-17 Cup of Nations, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Youth Competitions Committee said in a statement released on Friday.
Consequently, the quartet who all had at least one player fail their magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans that were conducted in the Host Country prior to the start of the competition will also miss the next FIFA Under-17 World Cup
In an interview, Coach Dekrerk Msakakuona whose side earlier on played to a 2 all draw against Botswana before the latter’s disqualification said his charges have now turned their focus to the new set up.
“The latest development could also be a blessing in disguise for Malawi because we only need two wins in order for us to make it to the final.
“However, I don’t want to put much pressure on the boys because they have seen for themselves how we fared in the game against Botswana”.
Certainly, the match has given us a clue as regard to how we should prepare the boys ahead of the clash against South Africa on Sunday,” Msakakuona said.
Turning to the forfeited Botswana fixture, the Malawi Men’s U-17 mentor described the performance of his charges as mild, admitting that they suffered from lack of experience.
“This was the first international match for most of my players save for two players that have been to the tournament before.
Such experiences are inevitable but as technical panel we will do everything possible to ensure that they quickly adapt before facing South Africa on Sunday and later Zambia, he said.
The 2020 COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship will restart as a four-team tournament on Sunday and will be played on a round-robin basis, with the top two teams advancing to a final on November 29.
Hosts South Africa open their campaign against Malawi (kick-off 15h30), while before that Angola and Zambia do battle at 12h30.
The matches which have been played to date will be regarded as warm-up games and will have no bearing on the new tournament format.
There are also fixtures on Tuesday and Thursday, before the final positions are decided next Sunday, including a third-fourth play-off.
The two sides that reach the final based on their position in the group will have already achieved one ambition by qualifying for the Cup of Nations that is scheduled for Morocco in the middle of next year.