This evening’s Cosafa Castle Cup Group B match between the Flames and Lesotho’s Likuena in Windhoek, Namibia will be like a cup final, but coach Ernest Mtawali is happy that the Flames’ fate is in their hands.
The coach said though the match will be tough, the good thing is that Malawi will not rely on results from the other Group B match between Mauritius and Angola.
Malawi and Lesotho are tied at six points each after two group matches, but Likuena are on top owing to a better goal difference. They have scored five goals and conceded none while Malawi have scored four and have not conceded as well.
Mauritius and Angola occupy third and fourth positions respectively with no point and are out of the quarter-final race.
Lesotho need a draw to reach the quarter-final while Malawi need a win at all cost.
But Mtawali downplayed the goal difference factor.
“It will be like a cup final. But the good thing is our fate is in our hands. We did well to win all our games. At this point the goal difference does not matter. It could have mattered if we were relying on another team to do that job for us. We are playing them [Lesotho]. A win will be enough for us to qualify,” he said.
Malawi will have to do better than they did on Tuesday when they struggled against a physical Mauritius side.
All Malawi’s attacks were thwarted by Mauritius who deliberately targeted marksman Gabadinho Mhango and Chiukepo Msowoya.
Mtawali promised a better performance in the decider. But with fatigue creeping in after some players have played four successive games—including the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations’ (Afcon) qualifier against Zimbabwe Warriors and the friendly against Namibia—it would be foolhardy for Mtawali not to rest some.
Save for Mhango’s hat-trick in the opening match, the striking force has been blunt. Mtawali hinted on throwing in fresh legs of Peter Wadabwa and Muhammad Sulumba who have not seen much action.
In midfield the coach also has some options in John Banda, Dalitso Sailesi and Wonder Jeremani.
Lesotho, ranked 155 on Fifa rankings, entered the tournament as Group B underdogs, but they have proved everyone wrong with their impressive performance.
Their coach Moses Maliehe is relying on a youthful side made up mostly of players who competed for the country’s Under-20 team at the 2011 African Youth Championships.
“It will be an exciting game. The Cosafa Cup has given the players a platform to shine and we are excited to see what we can achieve,” he said.
The Flames have to watch out for Likuena’s discipline when defending and attacking which coach Maliehe has executed well using the national league players.
Led by Bloemfontein Celtic defender Sepiriti David Malefane, Lesotho have tormented their opponents using Hlompho Kalake, Sera Motebang, Jane Thaba-Ntso, Tumelo Khutlang and Jeremea Kamela, who have been an inspiration for Likuena at the tournament having scored a goal each.
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