Malawi coach Meck Mwase has reacted to the draw for the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals, saying his Flames need to prepare mentally and physically if they are to excel past the group stages.
Mwase spoke soon after the draw at Yaounde Conference Centre on Tuesday evening when Malawi were thrown in Group B alongside Senegal, Guinea and Zimbabwe.
“It is a draw and that is how it is. We could not have chosen who to meet at the AFCON finals. We believe that all the teams have a chance to progress. As for us, it would all depend on how we prepare ourselves mentally and physically. All we can do is prepare well for the tournament. We believe in our boys that with determination, we can reach the next round,” he said.
Mwase said all teams that have qualified for the AFCON finals are strong and need to be respected for qualifying for this stage.
“There is nothing like a small team at this level. All teams worked hard to qualify for the finals and they will all start the tournament on an equal footing, so it will all depend on the approach in a particular game,” he said.
Mwase said he would use the forthcoming FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022 qualifying matches for CAF to gauge the Flames preparedness for the AFCON finals.
“As you know, it is just about a week [to go] before we start preparing for the World Cup qualifiers, so we are going to use these qualifiers to prepare for AFCON. Thereafter, we will sit down with the association and map the way forward on how we are going to prepare and where we will camp,” he said.
In the World Cup qualifiers, Malawi will face Cameroon next month followed by matches against Mozambique and Cote d’Ivoire, later.
Malawi has, in its football history, only been to the AFCON finals in 1984 and 2010 and on both occasions, failed to progress to the next round from the group stages.
At the 2010 AFCON finals, Malawi beat Algeria 3-0 in an opening match before losing 2-0 to the hosts Angola and 3-1 to Mali.
On their debut at the 1984 AFCON finals held in Cote d’Ivoire, Malawi drew 2-2 with Nigeria then lost 3-0 to Algeria and 1-0 to Ghana.