The Flames are behind Algeria by 70 places on the current Fifa Coca-Cola rankings, but the Desert Foxes have frailties which Malawi can exploit in the Saturday 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group B qualifier at Kamuzu Stadium.
This would be a third meeting in the Afcon qualifiers between the two teams with the Flames having a slight advantage of a single 3-0 win registered at the 2010 Afcon finals in Angola and a 1-1 draw at the 1984 edition held in Cote d’Ivoire.
Flames coach Young Chimodzi was a defender in the 1984 edition, then assistant coach in Angola. In the current squad, James Sangala and Joseph Kamwendo are survivors from the Flames team that beat Algeria in Angola. Algeria’s remnants from the 2010 side are few, including defenders Madjid Bougherra and Rafik Halliche.
The Nation with the help of Fifa.com and Independent newspaper insights, analyses Algeria who are fresh from a hugely impressive 2014 Fifa World Cup showing in Brazil. That form has translated in the Afcon qualifiers with 2-1 and 1-0 home and away wins over bottom-placed Ethiopia and second-placed Mali.
They are exciting and flexible side that defends and attacks as a compact unit. They play at high tempo and as they demonstrated in pushing eventual World Cup winners Brazil all the way to extra time in the quarter-finals. And Algeria are ruthless on the counterattack.
Algeria play in either 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation, reports Fifa.com. The team has developed a quick playing style. It is normal to see just one or two touches on the ball from a player before it is passed forward. Algeria is an attacking team and thanks to this are consistently good scorers. The Flames should also avoid playing in the hands of Algeria’s tricks such as exaggeration of injuries when tackled with an aim of attracting referees’ attention.
The Desert Foxes “can defend well and keep its opponents at distance. Furthermore, the team is good with long range deliveries and consistently scores this way. The team also attacks well down the wings.”
Algeria’s key man is attacking midfielder Sofiane Feghouli, who has been dangerous in all of Algeria’s games, whether wide on the right or cutting inside. The Valencia player is clever, quick and technically sharp enough to cause anyone problems.
The Independent recently wrote that “a cleverer team might be able to unpick the pairing of Rafik Halliche and Madjid Bougherra at centre-back, especially if they can run at them.” Robin Ngalande and if Gabadinho Mhango turns up are capable running straight into defenders to force them into committing fouls and unsettle them, thereby creating space for others.
The team suffers from some obvious weaknesses in defence, especially from corner kicks. They conceded most goals through headers off corner kicks during the World Cup qualifiers. Furthermore, reported Fifa, “the majority of the goals conceded came via the flanks” and this should be exploited by the Flames.
Former Flames midfielder Hellings Mwakasungula, who was voted man-of-the match when defeating the Algerians in Angola, summed up the opposition which the current generation of Malawi players should expect.
“Typical of North African teams, they will always do funny stuffs, but I guess we stand a chance being at home. Never forget that Algeria shall always fear Malawi. We must take advantage of their fear. North Africa teams tire in the second-half and lose shape when things do not go their way. They always attack you in patches. They always are professionally drilled,” concluded Mwakasungula.