Durban is a perfect holiday destination in South Africa, but for coach Kinnah Phiri and his misfiring Flames, careers are at stake in today’s strength-building match against Bafana Bafana at Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Flames step into this evening (from 6pm) match having sank to their lowest position 111 on December Fifa rankings; weeks after Kinnah barely survived Sports Minister Enoch Chihana ultimatum for results at the 2012 Cecafa Tusker Senior Challenge Cup in Kampala, Uganda.
A win for Kinnah, who has since 2008 with the Flames only won once on the road in 68 matches of all competitions, could ease the pressure on his shoulders and that of some players deemed as spent forces.
“This is a young squad comprising three players based here; two from Mozambique and one from Angola. This is an important match to help us assess players ahead of the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers,” Kinnah told South Africa’s e-tv on Wednesday.
In truth, this could be a job-saving mission after the Cecafa quarter-final exit rubbed salt on wounds festering after the botched up 2013 Africa Cup of Nations campaign.
Malawi has in over six meetings on all fronts only beaten Bafana Bafana once with the most recent 3-0 defeat being registered in 2008 in the early stages of Kinnah’s tenure.
More importantly, Flames stand-in captain Moses Chavula, Dave Banda and Joseph Kamwendo return to the land where Amazulu, Black Leopards and Orlando Pirates respectively flushed them out early this year; creating on them a ‘rejects tag’.
For the rest of the players, this could be an opportunity to market themselves to potential suitors ahead of the January transfer window. Reports suggest scouts are eyeing goalkeeper Simplex Nthala.
Nthala is likely to start between the sticks. Chavula marshals the defence which welcomes back Limbikani Mzava and James Sangala whom Durban side Thanda Royal Zulu off loaded in 2010.
Kamwendo could make things happen in midfield while scoring responsibilities rest on Atusaye Nyondo and Gabadinho Mhango.
On paper, South Africa are superior, lying 87 on the rankings.
Smarting from 1-0 beating by Africa kings, Zambia, Bafana Bafana are taking the match with utmost seriousness; hence, South Africa Football Association (Safa) met Flames expenses.
“We have a new coach [Gordon Igesund] who has played five games since appointment. This match presents him a final opportunity to assess his players. He names his final 23-member squad for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations after this match,” said Safa publicist Matlhomola Morake.
Bafana’s in-form striker Benard Parker has received a clean bill of health after an injury scare and might partner returning Katlego Mphela. Belgium-based midfielder Ayanda Patosi is the only newcomer. Defender Tsepo Masilela also returns from a long injury lay-off.