The Flames are hoping to haul themselves out of the mire when they face Ivory Coast’s Elephants in their 2022 Qatar World Cup reverse qualifier in Benin this afternoon.
Malawi National Football Team was humbled 0-3 at their borrowed home venue, Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa on Friday and Flames coach Meck Mwase said in a post-match interview that it will take something special to cause an upset.
“We do not have enough time, but we’ll go back to work on our shortfalls in the limited time that we have,” said the Flames gaffer, who blamed the loss on poor preparations.
However, Mwase said while the odds are against his charges, they will fight every inch of the way.
“They [Ivory Coast] are much more experienced and strong, but we will put up our best performance,” he said.
On his part, midfielder Gerald Phiri Jnr said: “We are definitely ready and we will go with a positive mind to try and get a win.”
Malawi will be without their captain Limbikani Mzava, who is nursing a hamstring injury sustained during the previous match. Winger Peter Banda will also be out as he is serving a two yellow cards suspension. Worse still, striker Richard Mbulu has also been ruled out due to an illness which forced Mwase to change the line-up at the eleventh hour in the previous match.
Khuda Muyaba is tipped to mesh with fellow South Africa-based forward Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango upfront with Fransisco Madinga and Yamikani Chester set to orchestrate play from the wings.
John ‘CJ’ Banda and Phiri Jnr could man the central midfield.
Peter Cholopi, Charles Petro, Stanley Sanudi and Dennis Chembezi will form the rearguard which appeared to have more leaks than a faulty radiator in the previous match, especially towards the closing stages.
Meanwhile, the Elephants coach Patrice Beaumelle said he expects the Flames to start at full throttle as they will have nothing to lose.
“We need to be much more careful because this match could determine their [Flames] fate in this campaign and, therefore, they will have nothing to lose,” he was quoted as having said by africasport.com.
Beaumelle also hailed the Flames as a good side.
“I know Malawi. I spent five years in Zambia and they share the border with Malawi. They play generous football with a lot of qualities and effort,” he was quoted as having said by supersport.com.
“They are dangerous and always in a hurry. It’s a team that I take seriously. You have to be strong. But [having said that], I hope to collect six points.”
Such is the depth in quality that even with the absence of their English Premier League stars Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal) and Wilfred Zaha (Crystal Palace), the Elephants still swept aside the Flames with contemptuous ease, especially in the closing stages.
The Flames are third in the four team Group D with three points from three matches, having lost their opening game 2-0 to Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions away before edging Mozambique’s Mambas 1-0.
Ivory Coast top the group with seven points followed by Cameroon who have six while Mozambique anchor the group with a point earned in their goalless draw against the Elephants.