Flames’ opening World Cup qualifier moved to September

Malawi National Football Team’s 2022 FIFA World Cup opening qualifying match which was expected to be played in June has been moved to September.

The Flames were scheduled to play Cameroon between 5-8 June 2021 before hosting Mozambique on match day 2 between 11-14 June 2021.

Three months later, Meck Mwase’s men were scheduled to play Ivory Coast back to back starting at home between 1-4 September and away between 5-8 September 2021.

However, according to a statement made available to all associations, Confederation of African Football (CAF) has decided to move the opening fixtures to September and the qualifiers will continue in October, November and March 2022.

“The CAF Emergency Committee, in consultation with FIFA, decided to postpone the CAF qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 that were due to be played in June 2021 after taking into consideration the current challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to ensure the optimal playing conditions for all participating teams.”

“The qualifiers will now take place in the existing windows of September, October and November 2021, and March 2022.”

“CAF is reassessing its protocols and processes to enhance the implementation of Covid-related protocols, including specifically focusing on pre-match testing which had been the source of some challenges in previous windows,” reads the statement.

This means the Flames, which were barred from playing within by the body due to the bad state of Kamuzu Stadium and Bingu National Stadium, will now have an opportunity to play at home if the existing problems at the venues are fixed.

The Flames are in group D alongside Cameroun, Ivory Coast and Mozambique.

Malawi will play their final home match against Cameroon before completing the group stages with an away fixture against Mozambique.

The winners of the 10 groups will qualify for the next round where they will face off to identify the five teams that will represent the Continent at the Qatar finals next year.

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