Football Association of Malawi (FAM) will on Saturday embark on a talent identification exercise to select Under-17 national football team players ahead of the 2019 COSAFA Youth Championship which Malawi will host in Blantyre from September 26 to October 5.
The junior Flames, need to prepare well for the tournament in order not to disappoint riding on the back they won in on home soil in 2001 and their best outing recently were back to back bronze medals in 2016 and 2017.
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.
FAM Technical Director Captain John Kaputa said they have 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 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,” Kaputa said.
After the weekend exercise, each region will select 30 players to go into regional camp trainings in the four cities from July 15-18. Then 20 players per centre will be selected to travel to Blantyre for an inter-regional tournament between July 22-24.
“During the inter-regional tournament, the Under-17 national team coaching panel, headed by DeKlerk Nsakakuona, will select the squad that will go into the final camp to start preparations for the COSAFA Cup,” Kaputa said.
He also said 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 — one by ourselves and the other by COSAFA, who will also conduct their own before the tournament kicks off.
“The eligible players are those that were born by or after 1st January 2003 and before 30th December 2005,” Kaputa said.