The Malawi Flames, will join the TotalEnergies 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers in the group stages.
Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced in a statement that 12 lowest-ranked teams—Lesotho, E-swatini, Botswana, Gambia, South Sudan, Mauritius, Sao Tome & Principe, Djibouti, Somalia, Seychelles and Eritrea—will battle it out in the preliminary round.
The continental football governing body is expected to conduct the draw for the qualifiers this Friday in Doula, Cameroon on the sidelines of the 2021 Afcon finals.
The statement reads in part: “The TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 Preliminary Round draw will be conducted on Friday, 21 January 2022 in Douala.”
“The Preliminary Round will see the 12 least-ranked teams divided into two levels. The six highest-ranked teams will play against the six least ranked teams. The first leg will be played at the home of the lower-ranked teams,” reads the statement further.
The six aggregate winners will then join the 42 highest ranked teams, including Malawi, into the Group Stage of the qualifiers.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) competitions and communications director Gomezgani Zakazaka said the seeding of the Flames gives them ample time to prepare for the group stages.
He said: “It’s good that we have been seeded as it will allow the technical panel to plan well.”
Malawi qualified for the ongoing 34rd Afcon finals after finishing as runners-up in a group which also had leaders Burkina Faso, Uganda and South Sudan.
Meanwhile, CAF will also conduct the Qatar 2022 Fifa World Cup African qualifiers third Round draw on Saturday, 22 January at the same venue.
The 10 qualified teams, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt, Cameroon, Ghana, Mali and DR Congo, will be divided into two levels based on the official Fifa rankings in November 2021.
The five highest-ranked teams will play against the five least-ranked teams. The first leg will be played at the home of the lower-ranked teams.
The Flames failed to make it to the third round after losing all but one game in the qualifiers in a group which had Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Mozambique. The Flames only managed to beat Mozambique’s Mambas at home