Malawi’s Flames this afternoon face a ‘makeshift’ Zimbabwe’s Warriors in an international friendly which coach Meck Mwase has to win to atone for the team’s 1-0 loss to Zambia in Lusaka on Wednesday.
The Flames have all the reasons to be favourites in this match set for Mpira Stadium in Chiwembe, Blantyre, as they have been in camp for the past three weeks while the Warriors, who flew into the country yesterday evening, only had a couple of days to tune up.
In fact, out of the 18 players coach Zdravko Logarusic called, 11 never trained with the team for the friendly.
Nine local players were drafted into the squad at the eleventh hour after foreign-based players failed to join the Warriors due to late clearance by government and Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Aston Villa’s Marvelous Nakamba joined the team on Thursday night followed by Turkish-based Teenage Hadebe on Friday morning.
Alec Mudimu, who plays for Sherrif Tiraspol in Moldova and Khama Billiat of Kaizer Chiefs, flew directly to Malawi.
But despite the shoddy preparations, the Warriors are capable of stunning the Flames.
Memories are still fresh how the Zimbabweans caused havoc at Kamuzu Stadium in 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers when they stunned the Flames despite arriving in the country just hours before the match.
Besides, it is every coach’s wish to have a dream start and Logarusic will be hoping to do so in his first assignment following his appointment in February.
“It is exciting that finally we have been given the green light to resume football, and I am also excited to be taking charge of my first assignment for the Warriors and I am looking forward to my first match.
The Croatian told the media that despite the trip facing hiccups such as delayed government clearance and a depleted squad, the Warriors will fight to the end.
“It was not easy to get the clearance from government; without the approval we were stuck. But now that we have been cleared to travel, we are able to plan ahead,” said the Warriors gaffer.
For Mwase the match is a chance to rectify the mistake the Flames made in Zambia where they lost 1-0 while preparing for Burkina Faso game.
The Flames looked rusty and disorganised. As usual, playing without purpose characterised by unnecessary back passes in their own half, was their unmaking.
clubs do not have stable sponsorships.
“We must not pretend that our teams, be if in football or other sport, are financially fine. The testing fee will be a challenge to many teams, but they can manage other precautionary measures. It will be better to engage Ministry of Health for free testing.”
In an interview on Friday, Nyasa Big Bullets chief administrative officer Albert Chigoga said they arranged with Blantyre Health Office for the players and officials to undergo the testing.
Football Association of Malawi Covid-19 Task Force chairperson Chimango Munthali was quoted in Nation on Sunday’s last week edition as saying the Super League clubs have no capacity to pay for each testing fees.
He said they engaged government to test players for free, but Ministry of Health spokesperson Joshua Malango is quoted in Nation on Sunday’s last week edition as saying, there is no such arrangement.
The whole team was disjointed as they allowed the Zambia to hit them on the counter worsed by poor goalkeeping.
“We cannot afford to make such mistakes again. We need to do better this time,” said Mwase.
He also said Kenya-based Andrew Malisero was called up as the former Surestream Academy graduate is in his plans.
While the home fans forgave the loss, this time Mwase will not get away with it as the Flames face a hastily assembled Warriors.
Just like in Lusaka, the coach is expected to make several changes in order to give a chance to all the players.
However, the first eleven might not change. The coach is expected to maintain his 4-3-3 formation with Silver Strikers’ Brighton Munthali in goal while the defence will have Be Forward Wanderers right-back Stanley Sanudi, Nyasa Big Bullets left-back Precious Sambani and Moldova-based Charles Petro partnering Polokwane City’s Dennis Chembezi in central defence.
Mozambique-based John CJ Banda and Nyasa Big Bullets’ Chimango Kayira will be at the centre of the turf while Baroka FC’s midfielder Gerald Phiri Jnr will play just in front of the two.
USA-based Las Vegas Lights attacker Yamikani Chester played wide on the right while Orlando Pirates forward Frank Gabadinho Mhango will be deployed on the left with Baroka FC striker Richard Mbulu playing upfront.