LUSAKA, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Zambia's under-23 football team has started preparing for their Africa U-23 Cup of Nations qualifier against Malawi, head coach Bilton Musonda said on Wednesday.
After receiving a bye in the first round, Zambia will play Malawi on March 20 in the second round of the qualification for the tournament proper in Egypt this year.
Coach Musonda said the team has started preparing early because he wanted to mold a strong side together.
"We are happy that we have started early because we will have enough time. The first game is in March. We are looking at local players and will incorporate foreign-based players later," he said in a statement on the website of Zambia's football federation.
The winner of March's tie will move into the final qualifying round in June to face either the Democratic Republic of Congo or Burundi in a tie that will decide who will advance to the Egypt finals.
The statement added that the 2019 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations finals will also serve as the qualifying tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, with the top three finishers qualifying for the Games.