Malawi National Football Team will today play their first home match away from home when they line up against the Mambas of Mozambique in South Africa in a 2022 World Cup qualifier.
Ihe Flames are using the match at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg as home ground following Confederation of African Football (CAF) decition to condemn Bingu National Stadium from hosting World Cup qualifiers.
Though they they will be playing about 1 730 kilometres away from home, coach Meck Mwase and his charges say they are determined to make good use of their ‘borrowed’ home.
Following a 2-0 loss to the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon on Friday night, the Flames gaffer said he was aware that today’s showdown is a must-win to have realistic hopes of qualifying for the next round.
The Flames anchor the four-team Group D with no point while the Mambas have a point earned in their goalless draw against Ivory Coast’s Elephants.
Mwase, however, said he expects a tough match against the Mozambicans, who will also be out to register their first win.
He said: “That they were able to hold Ivory Coast speaks volumes about their strength, but if we play according to our game plan, we will do well.
“The plan is that we should take the game to them and not allow them to settle down.”
Mwase also said he has cautioned his players against conceding early.
“We have worked on the shortfalls that were noted in the game against Cameroon and we expect an improved performance,” he said.
After starting with a defensive formation in Yaounde, where Richard Mbulu featured as a lone striker, the Flames mentor is likely to apply an attacking formation and Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango, who was thrown in as a substitute against Cameroon, is likely to mesh with Mbulu upfront with Peter Banda and Gerald Phiri Jnr orchestrating play down the flanks.
Tawonga Chimodzi, Yamikani Chester and Chimwemwe Idana are likely to team up in central midfield while captain Limbikani Mzava, Charles Petro and Stanley Sanudi could form the rearguard.
On the other hand, Mozambique coach Horacio Goncalves has included 13 players that were in the Mambas squad at this year’s Cosafa Cup in South Africa where they beat Malawi 2-0 in July.
He has also included eight Europe-based players. Seven of them play in Portugal while the other, defender Reinildo Mandava, turns out for Lille in France.
Gonçalves surprised many people by leaving out some experienced players such as South Africa-based Elias Pelembe, central defender Edson Sitoi (Bordeaux, France), Reginaldo Faite (Kaisar, Kazakhstan) and Stenley Ratifo (CFR Pforzheim, Germany).
He told cafonline.com that his charges were nervous against Ivory Coast and he expects them to start on the front foot this afternoon.
“I don’t think we can have that kind of mentality of waiting for the opponent to go after the ball,” he was quoted as having said.
Mozambique’s key players include Portugal-based forwards Amâncio Canhembe and Witness Quembo.