Malawi national team coach Meke Mwase admits South Africa’s Premier Soccer League played a leading role in his side qualifying for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations that will take place in Cameroon from January.
The likes of Orlando Pirates striker Gabadinho Mhango, AmaZulu defender Limbikani Mzava and the Baroka FC duo of midfielder Gerald Phiri Jnr and striker Richard Mbulu were all key elements of The Flames’ success.
With Malawi’s domestic league suspended, the fact that those players were able to keep playing and stay match fit was a major plus, says former Jomo Cosmos defender Mwase.
“Most of our foreign-based players are in South Africa, so when COVID-19 came on us, it was only South Africa’s Premier Soccer League that still had some games being played,” he told The COSAFA Show.
“It really contributed a lot to our qualification, but I am a bit worried because a lot of them don’t have game-time [at their clubs] now.”
Malawi have been drawn in a tough pool in Cameroon along with Senegal, Guinea and COSAFA rivals Zimbabwe. They have two previous visits to the finals but have yet to get out of the pool stage.
“All the teams are very strong, in football you don’t know what will happen. But what we are going to do is fight for ourselves and see how far we can go,” Mwase says.
“We are still a young team and still learning, but we are very confident that we are going to do well in the finals in Cameroon. We hope the boys will give their all, for themselves and for Malawi as well.
“Since we have been there twice before, we have not qualified for the quarterfinals and this is what we are fighting for. But as well, we would like to finish in the semifinals or the final even. You never know in football.”
Also on this episode of The COSAFA Show, we hear from South African-born winger DeAndre Vollenhoven, who is just starting his career at New Zealand side Auckland City.
We also chat to COSAFA General Secretary Sue Destombes and Lesotho Football Association Technical Director Leslie Notsi on preparations for the Region 5 Games Maseru 2020 that were held over from last year and start on November 30 with Girls’ and Boys’ Under-17 competitions.