The Football Association of Malawi will on Saturday embark on a talent identification exercise to select Under 17 national football team players ahead of the 2019 COSAFA Youth Championship.
Malawi is hosting the championship for the first time since 2001 and FAM is geared to assemble the best squad to challenge for the title as was the case 18 years ago.
According to FAM Technical Director Captain John Kaputa, the Association has arranged two-day trials in four centres across the country where 60 players will battle for places at the national trials next week.
“On Saturday and Sunday all the players who have been called for trials will assemble at the Regional centers in Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Zomba and Blantyre. At each centre there will be a panel of four comprising of two coaches, an official from Malawi Schools Sports Association and one from National Youth Football Association to supervise the process.
“We want to ensure that the best players and those in the right age brackets are picked,” he said.
After the weekend exercise, each region will select 30 players to go into regional camp trainings in the four cities from 15th to 18th July. Then 20 players per centre will be selected to travel to Blantyre for an inter-regional tournament between 22nd and 24th July.
“During the inter-regional tournament the Under 17 National Team Coaching Panel headed by Declerk Nsakakuona will select the squad that will go into the final camp to start preparations for the COSAFA Cup,” said Kaputa.
According to the TD, the players will have to undergo a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) test at College of Medicine before going into full camp to avoid age cheating.
“There will be two tests that will be done. One by ourselves then COSAFA will also do their own before the tournament kicks off. Those eligible to participate are those that were born by or after 1st January 2003 and before 30th December 2005”, said Kaputa.
Malawi will host this year’s Cosafa Tournament in Blantyre from 26th September to 5th October.
The Junior Flames have won the tournament once on home soil and their best outing recently were back to back bronze medals in 2016 and 2017.