Some members of the Flames squad which qualified for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) say mental strength and fighting spirit will be key for the current squad to qualify for Cameroon 2021.
The Flames face a date with destiny when they host Uganda’s Cranes on Monday at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre and a win will earn them a ticket to the promised land.
The 2010 side defied the odds and punched above its weight to overcome two gruelling qualification rounds which included facing continental giants such as Egypt, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Burkina Faso and DR Congo.
In separate interviews, Peter Mponda, who captain ed the historic side, James Sangala, Joseph Kamwendo and Esau Kanyenda said they believe Malawi have a good chance of qualifying depending on their mental preparedness and game approach.
Said Mponda: “Psychological aspect will be very crucial and obviously they will need to sweat blood and give their all.
“Those were the key aspects that led to our qualification, otherwise we were just an average side, there was nothing really special about our team other than determination and team spirit. I have the belief that we will qualify.”
On his part, Kamwendo said: “For us, it was about hunger and dedication and we were ready to die for our nation. Everything worked to perfection also because there was good team spirit and goodwill from the nation.
“They should not panic. They just have to go there and play with a purpose and confidence. They will need to give out something extra, knowing that a win will earn them a ticket to Cameroon.
“Of course, it won’t be easy against a good side, but being within touching distance of qualifying, should be a big motivation. They are a bunch of an energetic squad and the approach will be key.”
Sangala also said what the current squad can learn from the class of 2010 is determination and self-belief.
“The key factors about our squad were that we were full of experience and determination in that everyone was a hard worker. There was good team spirit and over and above that, the grace of God was with us,” he said.
Kanyenda, who is now based in England, said while the odds appear to be in Uganda’s favour, a good strategy coupled with a fighting spirit could do the trick.
“How we approach this game will be key. It is a do-or-die match and the approach will be key.
“During our time, we faced star-studded teams such as Ivory Coast, Egypt and Algeria and we were able to handle them when playing at home and that is the mentality that the current squad can learn from. They have nothing to lose but more to gain,” said the ‘Black Mamba’.
Flames captain Limbikani Mzava said they are determined to give their all.
“We will do everything for the cause of our nation. We will fight to the very end and the key factor will be for us to remain focused from start to finish.
“It won’t be easy, we know it will be tough, but I want to assure the nation that everyone is determined to go out there and fight. It will be painful to fail when it is all in our hands,” he said.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu said they have all the hope that the Flames will sail through.
He said: “We are so close and the players know the importance of the match. To be in this situation is not easy and we want to capitalise on playing at home.
“In the past we have played our deciding matches away which put us in awkward situations. So, I have no doubt that we will deliver.”
The Flames are third in Group B with seven points, a point adrift of second-placed Uganda. Burkina Faso, who have already qualified, top the group with nine ponts. Two teams from each group will qualify for the continental event.