The Flames have been boosted by the arrival of three foreign-based players—including influential playmaker and skipper Joseph ‘Shakira’ Kamwendo—in the countdown to Saturday’s crucial 2014 World Cup qualifier against Namibia’s Brave Warriors.
Leader of delegation Paul Mzungu, who is also Football Association of Malawi (FAM) executive member, said Kamwendo, his Liga Maculmana teammate Zicco Mkanda and South Africa-based forward Atusaye Nyondo, joined the Flames in Johannesburg on Wednesday afternoon en route to Namibia.
The trio missed Tuesday night international friendly match against Botswana’s Zebras in Gaborone which Malawi lost 1-0.
“We now have a full squad having been joined by the captain [Kamwendo], Atusaye and Zicco. Their arrival has further boosted the morale of the team and we are looking forward to a good game against Namibia,” said Mzungu in a telephone interview from the Namibian capital, Windhoek, on Thursday.
He said the Flames were accorded a warm welcome by the hosts and they are being accommodated at a five-star Windhoek Country Resort.
“We can’t complain really. They accorded us a warm welcome. Soon after arrival on Wednesday evening, the team loosened up and all the players appear to be in shape. They have recovered from the narrow loss to Botswana and our focus has rightly shifted to tomorrow’s game.
“We are just working on lifting the spirits of the players further,” said Mzungu.
The team leader said the game is scheduled to kick off at 4pm local time.
Mzungu said Malawians based in the predominantly desert domain are mobilising themselves to give the Flames the moral support they desperately need.
“There are a number of Malawians who have contacted us through e-mails and they have given their word to come and give the team moral support on Saturday,” he said.
Mzungu also described the weather as partly warm.
Caretaker coach Eddington Ng’onamo and his two deputies Ernest Mtawali and Patrick Mabedi are concentrating on finishing which remains the team’s weakest link.
Nothing short of a win
Meanwhile, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu has said the association expects nothing short of a win in Saturday’s showdown, without necessarily putting pressure on the team.
“We are wishing the boys all the best and we hope we’ll be able to turn the corner against Namibia whom we have not beaten in a competitive game,” he said.
The FAM president also said they have confidence in the technical panel ahead of its first competitive game in charge.
“It is an important game because a win will give us a realistic chance to remain in contention for final phase qualification.
“So, I urge the entire nation to be behind the team,” said the FAM president.
Brave Warriors are ranked 121 by Fifa—10 places below the Flames.
The last time the two teams met in a competitive game was in 2008 during the Cosafa Castle Cup in Seccunda, South Africa. Brave Warriors won 1-0.