Zambia scored a narrow 1-0 win over neighbours Malawi in a battle between the COSAFA nations in Lusaka on Wednesday in the first international involving African countries since the coronavirus pandemic shut down world sport in March.
Collins Sikombe netted after 13 minutes for a Zambia team devoid 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.
Sikombe latched onto a long ball out of defence to round the Malawian keeper and provide a neat finish.
It was the first of a number of friendly encounters involving COSAFA sides, with the next to take place on Thursday when South Africa host Namibia and Mozambique meet Guinea-Bissau in Portugal and Comoros take on Libya in Tunisia.
Meanwhile elsewhere on the continent, South Sudan also used the return of international football on the African continent to travel to Cameroon where they lost to club champions PWD Bamenda in a match designed to give them match practice ahead of the resumption of African Cup of Nations qualifiers next month.
The qualifiers resume in November after a year’s hiatus with the finals in Cameroon already put back a year because of the COVID-19 crisis and will now be played in January 2021.
There has been little football across African borders since the pandemic was declared with travel restrictions curtailing plans to resume international football in September, where European countries’ national teams were able to pay 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 to use this month’s window to rid themselves of rustiness.
Many African sides have headed to Europe for matches and training camps over the next week.
UPCOMING FRIENDLIES INVOLVING COSAFA NATIONS
Mozambique vs Guinea-Bissau
South Africa v Namibia
Libya vs Comoros
Madagascar v Swift Hesperange (Luxembourg club)
Kenya vs Zambia
Angola vs Guinea-Bissau
South Africa vs Zambia
Malawi vs Zimbabwe
Comoros v Tunisia Under-20
Madagascar vs Burkina Faso
Mozambique vs Angola