Malawi’s ticket to the second round of the Africa Cup of Nations has been confirmed without them kicking a ball after they secured a place as one of the best third-placed teams in the six pools.
Wins for Egypt and Nigeria in Group D on Wednesday ensured the Flames would be among the top four teams no matter what happens in the final matches in the first stage on Thursday.
It is the first time in Malawi’s history that they have reached the knockout stages and their feat was hard-earned, with a 0-0 draw against continental heavyweights Senegal sealing the deal.
Malawi will now face Morocco in the second round in Yaounde on Tuesday, and if they advance past that tie will meet the winner of the match-up between Egypt and the top side in Group E, which at this stage is wide open, but contains Algeria, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone.
That group will also be key in whether Comoros make it through to the second round as well.
In order for that to happen they need the Ivorians to hold Algeria to at least a draw, and for Equatorial Guinea to beat Sierra Leone.
COSAFA’s third representative at the finals, Zimbabwe, are already out but signed off with an excellent 2-1 victory over Guinea on Tuesday.