Flames coach Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) and his charges say they have the belief of causing a major upset against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon this afternoon and place the champagne on ice.
Malawi host the African champions in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group B qualifier at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre from 3pm.
Against all odds, the Flames ranked 125th—75 places below the West Africans—are relishing the prospect of giving the sporting world a rare feel-good tale of the biblical little David that brings down Goliath.
Now and again, the world has backed an underdog—which suddenly finds itself facing the might of the heavyweight—hoping for that shock victory that will cheer the spirits of the globe and also prove that, for all the talent that nature can give an individual, we are all human.
The Flames, who lost narrowly 1-0 in the first leg away in Yaounde on Friday, are third in the four-team group with three points from three games—four points short of the West Africans.
“This is it. I have this good feeling that we will make Malawians smile as we return to Kamuzu Stadium and seek to turn it into a fortress again,” said RVG.
The coach said his confidence stems from a positive atmosphere within his squad.
“The atmosphere in camp is amazing. The players know they are up against a giant, but they are prepared to sweat blood to put a smile on Malawians.
“The result in Yaounde gives us confidence that we are not far off and we can pull off a surprise,” he said.
But it does not just come on a silver platter and RVG knows that for a team which has scored just six goals in 18 games, it will take something special to pull off a surprise.
“It can never be easy. For that to happen, we have to take even half a chance, but we are drawing a lot of confidence from our 12th player—the fans. We are urging them to come and rally behind their boys and create an intimidating atmosphere for Cameroon,” he said.
His captain John ‘Kintu’ Lanjesi was also upbeat, saying: “We know that if we can give 100 percent effort we can spring a shock result and that is what makes football such an interesting game because anything can happen and it just depends on how we apply ourselves.
“We also urge the fans to come and cheer us on.”
RVG hinted at ringing some changes to the starting line-up in Yaounde.
“We are still monitoring the players’ recovery after the trip and also the tough game in Yaounde, we could make one or two changes.”
Asked on the approach, RVG said: “Obviously, we will have to be more on the offensive because this is a must-win game if we are to remain in contention for a qualification slot.”
Chiukepo Msowoya and Gabadinho Mhango are some of the attacking players that RVG will look up in today’s showdown.
Cameroon’s coach Clarence Seedorf told www.goal.com, that he expects even a tough return encounter.
“They really tried to hold us at home and I reckon it will even be tougher at their backyard and we need to exercise a lot of caution and plan properly,” he said.
Captain Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who earned Seedorf his first win in charge of Cameroon, will be the man to watch.
Meanwhile FAM competitions and media manager Gomezgani Zakazaka has said the much-awaited Flames replica jerseys arrived in the country yesterday and the association was working on clearing them with the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA).