South Sudan and Uganda have said their upcoming 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against the Flames will be decisive in their quest for a ticket to Cameroon.
The Flames, who are third in Group B with four points from four matches, face table-anchors South Sudan this Wednesday in Khartoum before hosting second-placed Uganda’s Cranes at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre five days later.
Burkina Faso’s Stallions top the four-team group with eight points, a point above second-placed Uganda while South Sudan have three points.
The Bright Stars’ key forward Tito Okello told BBC Sport that the group is still open.
“Anyone can still qualify from that group,” Okello, who scored the winner against Uganda in their previous qualifier, was quoted as having said.
“The win against Uganda opened the group.
“Malawi is a do-or-die game,” he said.
“If we win that, then our last game [against Burkina Faso] will be the game of our lives.
“Qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time would be really crazy and really important, not just for the players but for the country as a whole.”
On his part, Uganda coach Clive Kyazze Omutegeke said he also believes their last qualifier against the Flames will be crucial in determining their fate.
He was quoted by sound.com yesterday as having said: “All the remaining games are crucial, but to me the most crucial one is against Malawi.
“If all the other factors remain constant, then that will be the decisive match.
“Of course, we could seal our qualification on Wednesday against Burkina Faso, so it is important that we get results from both matches.”
But Flames coach Meck Mwase says they have to clear the first hurdle before switching their focus to the Uganda match.
“For us both are must-win matches. So, for now our focus is on the South Sudan match because if we win then we could have realistic chances of qualifying,” he said.
The top two teams will qualify for the continental showpiece.
Malawi last qualified for Afcon finals in 2010 finals.