Malawi coach Meck Mwase has welcomed being drawn in tough Group D of African qualifiers for Qatar 2022 World Cup finals.
Mwase said playing against giants Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire presents his young charges with an opportunity to grow.
Neighbouring Mozambique complete the group.
But Mwase, whose team advanced to the group stages of the qualifiers after eliminating Botswana 1-0 over two legs in the preliminary phase, said there are positives to be picked from the draw.
“This is a challenge we will face as Malawi. We need to grow. We have been paired against those famous teams before. We have played against Cameroon before and we drew at home with them so anything can happen in football,” Mwase said.
“The good thing we can have from this group is that the boys will grow as they will have a feel of playing against these big teams. We need to come up with a proper strategy when meeting these continental giants.”
Asked if he expected to be paired against the continental giants, Mwase said: “You don’t expect anything when there is a draw. What you expect is what has come out of a draw.”
Only group winners will qualify to the third and final qualifying stage for the World Cup. Malawi’s Flames have never qualified for the World Cup.
In the qualifiers for 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), Malawi held Cameroon 0-0 in Blantyre before losing 1-0 away in Yaounde.
The Flames last played against the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in joint qualifiers for Afcon and World Cup finals in 2009.
Malawi lost 5-0 away and held the giants 1-1 in Blantyre.
By Peter Kanjere
FARpost’s Malawi correspondent