Malawi is among the seven Southern African countries that have confirmed their participation in the 2014 COSAFA Cup to be held in Botswana between September 13-28.
Malawi confirmed alongside Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Seychelles, Lesotho and Swaziland with the deadline set for April 25.
“We have confirmed participation for the tournament which has played a huge role in developing and exposing local talent since it started in 1997. If we qualify for the group stages of the 2015 Afcon qualifiers, the competition will be vital in helping our preparations as it will be played between the weekends of Afcon qualifiers,” said Football Association of Malawi (FAM) CEO Suzgo Nyirenda
Others countries are expected to throw their names into the hat in the coming days as the field for the annual regional showpiece tournament takes shape.
“Many of our general secretaries from the various COSAFA countries were in South Africa at the FIFA seminar that was held recently and so have not been in their own offices to deal with such issues,” COSAFA CEO Sue Destombes says.
Kenya were the guest nation at the last finals in Zambia in 2013 and Destombes confirms COSAFA are already “speaking to a couple of countries” from outside the region about participating in Botswana.
“That is why we have made the deadline for countries to confirm their participation so early in the year because it does then give us time to engage with others from outside COSAFA and give them adequate time to make a decision,” Destombes says.
The COSAFA Cup returns this year after the successful hosting of the 2013 edition in Zambia last July, with the host nation defeating Zimbabwe in the final to record their fourth tournament win, drawing them level with the Zimbabweans at the top of the list for all-time tournament wins.
South Africa and Angola are the only other to nations to have lifted the title and have three wins each.