Flames grouped alongside Senegal, Burkina Faso and Burundi in Group L of the AFCON Morocco 2025

* Zambia are in Group G along with Sierra Leone, Chad and reigning champions Côte d’Ivoire

* The AFCON Morocco 2025, will be played through this year as well as alongside the FIFA World Cup 2026™ qualifiers

By Duncan Mlanjira

Malawi Flames have been grouped alongside Burkina Faso, Burundi and 2021 champions, Senegal for the Africa Cup of Nation (AFCON) Morocco 2025, whose qualifiers will kick off next month.


The draw was held today in Johannesburg, South Africa that pits the hosts Morocco in Group B alongside Gabon, Central Africa Republic and Council of Confederation of Southern Africa Football Association (COSAFA) member, Lesotho.

Other COSAFA members are South Africa in Group K with Uganda, Congo, South Sudan; Botswana in Group C with Egypt, Cape Verde, Mauritania; while Zambia are in Group G along with Sierra Leone, Chad and reigning champions Côte d’Ivoire.

Angola are in Group F with Ghana, Sudan and Niger; Mozambique and eSwatini in Group I with Guinea Bissau and Mali while Zimbabwe and Namibia are in Group Jwith Cameroon and Kenya.

Madagascar are in Group A with Tunisia, Comoros and Gambia while West African giants and 2023 losing finalists, Nigeria are in Group D with Benin, Libya and Rwanda.

Group E has North Africans Algeria along with Equatorial Guinea, Togo and Liberia with Group H comprising DR Congo, Guinea, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

Meanwhile, Confederation of African Football (CAF) executive committee announced on June 21 that the AFCON Morocco 2025 will be played from December 21, 2025 to January 18, 2026 — as opposed to the usual period of January-February.

A press release from CAF published on CAFonline last week quoted CAF Patrice Motsepe as saying the announcement of the dates of the AFCON Morocco 2025 took much longer than expected, as there were complex and at times challenging discussions with various interested parties, in the light of the extensive international and domestic match calendars.

“CAF is committed to protecting and advancing the interests of African players, playing in football clubs in Europe and worldwide,” he was quoted as saying. “CAF is also committed to building mutually beneficial relationships with the ECA, UEFA, other Football Confederations and FIFA.

“We will continue to make significant progress in developing and ensuring that African football is globally competitive and amongst the best in the World.”


It will be a roller coaster run from this year till November during the AFCON qualifiers as they will be intensely played alongside the FIFA World Cup 2026™, which after Matchday 4, remains with six more games to be played in 2025 (March, September, October and November).

The AFCON Morocco 2025, will be played through this year as well as alongside the FIFA World Cup 2026™ qualifiers but the finals will be held in 2026.

The year naming of the editions got changed due to disruptions caused by the CoVID-19 — thus the 2020 was played in 2021 in Cameroon and the 2023 in 2024 in Côte d’Ivoire.

For the Flames, their next six games for the Group H of the FIFA World Cup 2026™ are three at home — against Equatorial Guinea and fellow COSAFA member, Namibia  Liberia — with the other three away against São Tomé e Principe, Tunisia and Namibia.

First will be against Namibia followed by away to Tunisia both in March 2025 before meeting Namibia again away and Liberia at home — both in September.

Then in October, the Flames will host Equatorial Guinea before traveling to confront São Tomé e Principe, whom they beat 3-1 at Bingu National Stadium in this June’s Matchday 3 before losing 0-1 in Matchday 4 away to Equatoguineans.

Having won 1-0 in their opening campaign away to Liberia, losing 0-1 at home against Tunisia, the Flames are 4th in Group H in the race for the FIFA World Cup 2026™ to be hosted jointly by the United States of America, Mexico and Canada.

The 23rd edition finals will have 48 participating countries instead of the conventional 32 giving an advantage for Africa to field more teams and the top team from each of the nine groups after Match Day 10 shall earn an automatic qualification.

The four best second-placed and top ranked teams from all nine groups will engage in a continental playoff, determining a single victor who will then proceed to a second and final playoff. 

This final stage will comprise six teams from various confederations, with the top two emerging as qualified participants, ultimately making up the 48 competing teams.