Malawi, Angola relish COSAFA Castle Cup opportunity

Both Malawi and Angola might have been eliminated from the Cosafa Castle Cup on Thursday but three matches in the group phase in a week has come as a valued experience for both countries.

Angola took a strong squad to the tournament to use it to prepare for the start of the African Nations Championship qualifiers.

They meet Mauritius over two legs next month and played them in a curtain raiser at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, drawing 0-0 on Tuesday.

“We chose to use the Cosafa to prepare for the CHAN-2018 qualifiers and as I’m new at the helm of the team, it was a great opportunity to get to know the players,” said Angola’s Beto Bianchi.

“We now have a foundation for the CHAN and we will take this squad and just add our players from overseas clubs for next March when we play again in the African Nations Cup qualifiers. It will be the same team for all the competitions just with some foreign-based players added.”

Malawi are already eliminated from the CHAN-2018 qualifiers and so do not play another competitive international until March next year when they meet Morocco in the preliminaries for the next Nations Cup finals in Cameroon.

“I have spoken to the president and the general secretary of the Football Association of Malawi and they have agreed we will try to organise friendlies in September, October and November when we have our players available with the FIFA dates. We want to call up a full squad and have them work and bond together,” explained the Flames coach Ronny van Geneugden.

“I am also working for a few days at the start of each week from know on with the locally-based players.

“We are proud of what we were able to achieve at the Cosafa Castle cup with a young team and it gives us confidence for the future,” he added.