Malawi/Zimbabwe: Warriors Thrown Life With Malawi Draw in CHAN Qualifiers

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The ZIMBABWE Warriors yesterday paired up with Malawi in the first round of the qualifying round for the 2022 African Nations Championship (CHAN) despite being banned from international football by FIFA.

The Warriors were named as one of 12 participating countries from the COSAFA region, where only three teams will qualify for the finals to be held in Algeria in January next year.

All qualifying matches are set to be played with two legs, with a forward aggregate. The first round of the first leg match will be played between July 22 and 24 with the leg returning a week later.

However, the CAF explained that Zimbabwe, who have been expelled from the AFCON 2023 qualifiers that start next week, will be disqualified if the FIFA ban is not lifted two weeks from the kick off of the CHAN game.

Zimbabwe and Kenya face the same fate after being given FIFA sanctions. But the Kenyan, who has clarified his position on cleaning up the game before returning to international football, was not included in yesterday’s draw.

“If the Zimbabwe FA’s suspension is not lifted two weeks before the first match, they will be considered defeated and eliminated from the competition,” CAF said in a statement.

Only local -based players are eligible to participate in the CHAN tournament. Zimbabwe finished last in the previous edition held in Cameroon after losing all group matches. They are not likely to take part in the upcoming qualifiers after the state sports regulator, the Sports and Recreation Commission, indicated that they would take the same route as Kenya.

This means Malawi will benefit from the walkover and move on to face the winners between Zambia and Mozambique in the second round.

According to a draw held yesterday, the winner between Mauritius and Angola will face Comoros or South Africa.

Botswana or Eswatini will be against Seychelles or Madagascar while Lesotho and Namibia will not participate in the Southern Zone.

The North African region has settled with Libya and Morocco joining Algeria in the competition due to Tunisia’s suspension due to late withdrawal during qualifying for the 2020 edition and Egypt choosing not to participate.

In the WAFU-B Zone, Ghana will participate in the only first round match against Benin with the winner going to advance to the qualifying final round for the date against Nigeria. Ivory Coast will face Burkina Faso and Togo against Niger in another WAFU-B final round match.