Mali’s 2-0 win over Ethiopia on Saturday has worsened Flames qualification hopes for 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
Goals in each half from Abdoulaye Diaby and Sambou Yatabare secured the win to put the Eagles on six points, second in the table. Ethiopia have yet to get off the mark and qualification now looks unlikely for Mariano Barreto’s team.
Former Flames captain Peter Mponda and veteran football commentator Stevie Liwewe-Banda have said the Flames need to accept the harsh reality that unless a miracle happens, qualification could as well be beyond reach.
“Technically, yes, we still have a chance of qualifying, but realistically we cannot make it. But that does not mean we should give up
“Our loss to Algeria coupled with Mali’s win over Ethiopia puts us in a difficult situation because it means we must win at least two of the remaining three games and hope that Mali falter in all their remaining games, which is practically impossible,” said Mponda.
He added: “It will be a miracle if we do qualify for Morocco 2015, but the reality is that we are in a tight situation.”
Nevertheless, Mponda, who was the Flames on-field leader when they qualified for the 2010 Afcon after 26 years in the wilderness, saluted the Flames for their spirited second-half performance.
“Flames’ first-half performance was disappointing, but in the second-half, they came out with all their guns blazing, the guys proved that rankings are just numbers, but then we made life difficult for ourselves by failing to convert several chances we had while they [Algeria] made good use of the chances they had.
“We could have also done better in the way we conceded the second goal,” he said.
Banda said qualification is no longer in Flames hands.
“We could still have slim chances, but then at the point that we have reached, we cannot determine our own fate and when it gets to that, then it becomes very difficult,” said the former State broadcaster MBC’s commentator.
However, coach Young Chimodzi said despite the loss, “it is not over yet, we can still make it, especially if we can get a point in Algeria. We are down, but not out.”
And responding to a questionnaire through Facebook, Kamwendo wrote: “We still have chances, we just have to keep going.”
The Flames are third in Group B with three points from three games having won one game against Ethiopia 3-2 and lost twice.
Algeria seem to be in the comfort zone having won all their three games. They lead the table with nine points.
Mali’s Eagles are second with six points while Ethiopia’s Walya Antelopes anchor the group with no point.
The top two teams from each group plus the overall third best team will make it to Morocco next year.