Zambia Beat Malawi As International Football Finally Returns to Africa

LUSAKA, Oct 7 (Reuters) – Zambia secured a narrow 1-0 win over neighbours Malawi in Lusaka on Wednesday in the first international involving African countries since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down world sport in March.

Collins Sikombe netted after 13 minutes for a Zambia team deprived of their overseas-based players by quarantine restrictions and facing a tough programme with another friendly on Friday in Nairobi against Kenya and then away in South Africa on Sunday.

South Sudan also used the return of international football on the African continent to travel to Cameroon where they lost 2-0 to club champions PWD Bamenda on Wednesday in an encounter designed to provide match practice ahead of the resumption of African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

The qualifiers resume in November after a year’s hiatus with the finals in Cameroon already put back a year to January 2021 because of the COVID-19 crisis.

There has been virtually no football across African borders since the pandemic was declared with travel restrictions curtailing plans to resume international football in September, when European countries’ national teams were able to play again.

The Confederation of African Football decided to delay the resumption of Nations Cup qualification because of the difficulties of travel, which has allowed many teams instead to use this month’s window to rid themselves of rustiness with friendlies.

Many African sides have headed to Europe for matches and training camps over the next week.