By Peter Kanjere:
Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Vice General Secretary, Suzgo Nyirenda, Wednesday confirmed the seeding, which means that the Flames would join the 2020 competition from the quarter-final stage.
Joining the competition in the last-eight stages means that the Flames just need three straight wins to claim the title for the first time.
Nyirenda Wednesday said, according to rules and regulations of the competition, the Flames would not participate in the group qualifiers as was the case in Durban.
“If the format for next year’s competition would be the same, then the Flames would be among the six seeded teams that would start playing from the quarter-finals,” he said.
“But there is a proposal to change the format. However, this has to be discussed. For now, the rules have not changed. Teams that finish in the top six such as Malawi are seeded.”
In this year’s edition, the Flames finished as the sixth best overall team out of the 14 sides after losing 5-4 on post-match penalties to South Africa in the Plate Section final.
Under Meke Mwase, the Flames qualified for the quarter-finals for the first time since 2015 after emerging as the overall best from Group B of the qualifiers, following 3-0 and 2-1 wins over Seychelles and Namibia, respectively followed by a 1-1 draw with Mozambique.
Malawi crashed out of the quarter-final stage after a 4-2 loss to eventual winners Zambia following a 2-2 draw in regulation time.
Mwase Wednesday said they benefited from playing three games in the group stages thereby helping his squad to gel.
“However, we have to accept the rules and regulations and play from the quarter-finals. Playing from that stage has its advantages. All we need is to prepare better and in the right environment,” he said.
Article 5, sub-section 5.1 of the 2019 Cosafa Cup rules and regulations states that the championship is played in two stages, the first being a group stage and the second being a knock-out stage.
“The eight lowest ranked teams, according to the Cosafa ranking system, will be drawn into two groups. The Cosafa ranking system shall be determined by the teams’ performances in the previous edition of this competition.
“The top four teams out of the eight competing in this round shall be seeded and drawn equally between the two groups. Each group shall consist of four teams. Each team will play the other teams in their respective groups once,” the regulations read.