Flames coach Meke Mwase says scoring will be his area of focus in the national football team’s final week of preparation ahead of this Saturday’s 2020 Championship of African Nations (Chan) first-round second-leg at home against e-Swatini (formerly Swaziland).
The Flames regrouped on Sunday at Mpira Village in, Chiwembe Township, Blantyre and they need to win their imminent match slated for Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre to qualify for the next round.
They must also avoid conceding in case of a draw as an away goal can help the visitors to progress as the first-leg encounter ended goalless.
“Our final week of preparations will be dedicated to sharpening the striking force and strengthening the defence. In football, you only win a match if you score goals while avoiding conceding. However, we have been struggling to succeed in these aspects for quite a long time,” Mwase said.
Scoring has been Flames’ major setback as in their last seven games, they have only scored a single goal against Comoros in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier in November 2018 and they conceded seven.
In the last Chan edition, the Flames failed to go past the preliminary round, having exited the 2017 event on 0-2 aggregate loss to Madagascar. Malawi lost by 1-0 margins in both home and away encounters.
Flames’ captain John Lanjesi concurred with Mwase that they need to pull up their socks.
“We really need to make Malawi football lovers smile this weekend and that can only happen if we have a sharp striking force,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mwase has added Silver Strikers’ winger Duncan Nyoni to the camping squad while Nyasa Big Bullets’ defender Gomezgani Chirwa has returned after recovering from an illness.
Bullets’ forwards Patrick Phiri and Peter Banda alongside Be Forward Wanderers’ captain Alfred Manyozo Jnr have been ruled out due to injuries. Banda resuscitated an ankle injury after featuring in Bullets’ 4-1 victory over Ntopwa FC in the TNM Super League while Manyozo sustained a hamstring strain in Wanderers’ 1-3 loss to Blue Eagles on Sunday.
“This is a setback considering that Phiri and Manyozo were in the first line up against e-Swatini in the first leg. However, we have confidence in the other players in camp that they will deliver,” said Flames’ team manager James Sangala.