It’s now official, the much-awaited Council of Southern African Football Association (COSAFA) Senior Challenge Cup will be held on July 21 to August 4 in Malawi.
The tournament, played for by countries in the Southern African region including Sihlangu, was last hosted by Zimbabwe in 2010 when they also won it.
The shifting of the dates by two weeks has been necessitated by the fact that the hosts will also be hosting the African Union (AU) Summit.
According to one of Malawi’s leading publications, Malawi Today the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and COSAFA have suddenly agreed on the hosting of the games.
COSAFA’s Chief Operations Officer Sue Destombes also confirmed the shifting of the dates.
“Since Malawi will be hosting the AU from July 10, we have revised the dates of the tournament because the hotels are fully booked,” she is quoted as having said.
She also disclosed that COSAFA was still finalising the sponsorship talks.
“We are in the process of finalising the deal. Sponsorship should be finalised in the next fortnight,” said Destombes.
Commenting on the venues, FAM President Walter Nyamilandu said the federation has earmarked four venues, Kamuzu and SureStream stadiums in Blantyre, and Civo and Silver in the capital city.
“The format is that the teams will be divided into two groups and the main venues will be Kamuzu and Civo Stadiums, but we will have SureStream and Silver on standby because we might have to use the venues for the last group matches to avoid determining the outcome,” Nyamilandu told Malawi Today.
Meanwhile, the confirmation comes after FAM and the Malawi were earlier on contradicting on the hosting of the tournament due to lack of communication something that had raised doubts about the tournament taking place in that country.
…while Sihlangu is grounded, others are preparing seriously
While Sihlangu are still grounded ahead of the COSAFA Senior Challenge due to lack of funds, other countries, including the hosts are already in extensive preparations for the upcoming tournament.
Information gathered by Face of Malawi has revealed that the Malawi soccer team otherwise known as the ‘Flames’ were taking their preparations for the tournament very seriously after leaving that country for a training camp in China on Sunday.
The ‘Flames’ coach, Kinnah Phiri is quoted as declaring that he wants to give exposure to the number of locally based players he has selected.
The ‘Flames’ will also use the China training camp to prepare for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers and the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Speaking at the airport before their departure, the ‘Flames’ mentor described the trip as important to give domestic players a chance to learn.
“We are going to China with one purpose which is to give our boys exposure as you are aware that l have selected locally based players and many of them are still young,” said Phiri.
Some of the players, who have made it for the China trip, are Mighty ‘Nyerere’ Wanderers trio of Foster ‘ZAGAF’ Namwera, Francis Mlimbika and Bongani Kaipa, including Joseph ‘Shakira’ Kamwendo, Big Bullets dangerous raider Gabadin Mhango, Henry ‘Magetsi’ Kabichi and George Nyirenda. Others are Silver Strikers raider Frank Banda, Rodrick Gonani , Ndaziona ‘Section 65’ Chatsalira, Chimango Kaira, Amadu Ali, Civo United defence pillar Pilirani Makupe, Blue Eagles striker John Banda and Steven Chagoma and Escom United custodian Charles Swini.
However, Phiri has also drafted in Flames vast experienced hit-man Esau ‘Black Mamba’ Kanyenda, who will captain the team.
The team is expected to play China’s Under-23 on Wednesday before coming back home to prepare for June competitive matches against Kenya and Nigeria in the World Cup Qualifiers matches and Chad in the Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers.