The Malawi Under 20 National Football Team will face Swaziland in the first round of the Total Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
According to the fixtures released by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the first round of the qualifiers will be played on March 30-April 1, 2018 with the return legs scheduled for April 20-22, 2018.
The Junior Flames will begin the tie at home with the winner over 2 legs scheduled to face Angola in the second round slated for May this year.
The third and final qualifying round will be staged in July with the winners earning automatic slots to the Africa U20 Cup of Nations to take place in Niger in January 2019.
Malawi and Swaziland are familiar foes having last faced off on 6 December 2017, as Gerald Phiri’s wards came out 3-2 winners during the COSAFA Youth Championships in Zambia.
Nyasa Big Bullets new catch Patrick Phiri scored a brace with Peter Banda of Griffin Young Stars netting the other.
Reacting to the draw, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alfred Gunda said they are looking to their technical subcommittee to name the technical panel which will lead the team.
“Administratively we are ready, but we are now looking to our technical sub-committee to come up with the coaching panel which will in turn select players to immediately go into camp. We expect that to happen soon enough because time is not on our side,” said Gunda.
Gunda further said that FAM highly values the team as it forms the vital part of the future of Malawi football.
Angola, Zambia, Guinea, Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal, South Africa, Ghana, Egypt, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Libya, Cote d’Ivoire and Sudan have all been given a bye into the second round.
The teams exempted from the first round are the 12 who qualified to the final tournaments of the last 2 editions in addition to the 4 teams who reached the last round of the qualifiers of the last edition.
Nigeria are the record holders with 7 titles while Zambia are the current holders, winning it at home last year after beating Senegal 2-0 in the final.