Flames coach Ernest Mtawali has said they have put behind their 0-2 loss to South Sudan and focus has switched to this afternoon’s Cecafa Cup quarter-final showdown against record 13-time winners, Uganda’s Cranes, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“The [South] Sudan loss is water under the bridge now. Of course, we could have done better, but it was the only platform to try some new faces because we had already qualified. Another crucial factor was that some players needed to rest. So, it was by design and not that we were underrating South Sudan.
“We have now picked ourselves up and we have to move on. Our focus is on tomorrow’s [today] match,” said Mtawali in an interview from Addis Ababa on Sunday.
However, the Flames coach said they did not have an opportunity to watch the Cranes play their final Group B game against Burundi on Saturday as they were in transit from Bahir Dar City, which is 555 kilometres away from Addis Ababa.
“But we have an idea of their style of play having faced them on July 6 in a friendly match [which was part of the independence celebrations]. They like play long balls and are good at counter-attacks.
“They might not necessarily have the same team, but they should still have some of the players that featured in that match,” said Mtawali.
He said the plan will be to get an early goal so as to unsettle the Ugandans.
Just like the Flames, Uganda won two group matches and lost one.
They lost to their rivals, Kenya’s Harambee Stars, 2-0 in their opening Group C match, but recovered to win their next two matches against Zanzibar 4-0 and Burundi 1-0 to finish top of the group.
On the other hand, the Flames beat Sudan 2-1 and Djibouti 3-0 before losing to South Sudan.
Mtawali hinted that he will feature a full-strength squad and key players such as goalkeeper Simplex Nthala, wing defenders Stanely Sanudi and Yamikani Fodya, midfielders Gerald Phiri Jnr and John Banda and striker Chiukepo Msowoya—who started on the bench against South Sudan—will make the first eleven.
Also making a return will be striker Schumacher Kuwali after completing his red card suspension.
Uganda are ranked 68 on Fifa/Coca Cola World Rankings—29 places above the Flames.
They are still in contention for the 2018 World Cup qualification campaign having beaten Togo 4-0 on aggregate.
Malawi has won the tournament three times in 1978, 1979 and 1988 when Malawi was still affiliated to Cecafa n