Football pundits have said despite going down six places on the latest edition of the Fifa/Coca Cola rankings, the Flames have a chance to redeem themselves if they can beat Ghana next Saturday.
Â According to latest rankings released on Wednesday, Flames have gone down to 96th in the world and 26th in Africa. They are now fifth in the Cosafa bloc, after reigning Africaâ€™s champions Zambia, South Africa, Angola and Zimbabwe in that order.
Football analyst Charles Nyirenda, former Europe-based midfielder Ernest Mtawali and Flames stand-in captain Moses â€˜Lubaâ€™ Chavula attributed the slide to the recent 2-0 and 1-0 losses to Ghana and Liberia respectively.
Said Nyirenda: â€œLiberia are lowly-ranked and when you lose to lowly-ranked sides the slide is often significant. We must expect heavy drops when we lose to teams that are lowly-ranked. So, friendlies need to be carefully chosen.
â€œIf you do well against bigger teams, then you are likely to rise considerably as was the case when we beat Egypt, we soared 19 places, there are no short-cuts.â€
He also said rather than shatter their confidence, the situation should gee-up the Flames as they prepare for Ghana.
On his part, Mtawali said: â€œThe drop was expected having lost two games away to Ghana and Liberia, but that should not affect their focus for the forthcoming game.â€
He said that is why although the odds are stacked against the Flames, it is key to go flat out and not toy around with rigid formations that take the best out of our naturally talented players.
Chavula said their confidence will not be shattered with the drop on the rankings, insisting the focus is on the impending showdown.
Said Chavula: â€œIt was expected that we would drop on the rankings following the losses to Liberia and Ghana respectively.
â€œBut while it is definitely a drawback, it should be understood that we lost to teams that give away very little when playing at home and what needs to be borne in mind is that Ghana are one of the best teams in Africa.
â€œThe soccer fraternity should still give us the benefit of the doubt and see what we can do next weekend.â€
â€œOf course, it will be a tall order, but we have nothing to lose. We are planning to fight every inch of the way.â€
Flames coach Kinnah Phiri could not be reached for comment on Thursday, but he, too, attributed the drop to the losses against Ghana and Liberia in an interview with MBC.
â€œBut we are determined to do well against Ghana because should we win, then we will definitely rise considerably. We plan to push them to the limit so that we win this game,â€ Kinnah was quoted as saying.