Tomorrow’s 2022 World Cup preliminary round qualifier first leg between Malawi and Botswana at Francistown Sports Complex will be the two teams’ coaches’ first assignments.
Flames coach Meke Mwase will have his first assignment following his appointment in July, replacing Belgian Ronny Van Geneugden in July.
Algerian Adel Amrouche, who left Algerian Ligue 1 giants MC Alger earlier this year, will also be in his maiden assignment after he replaced David Bright last Friday as the Zebras tactician.
While this is Meke’s first stint as senior national team coach, Amrouche is no stranger to African football, having had stints with Equatorial Guinea, Burundi, Kenya and Libya over the past two decades.
Interestingly, the two coaches have the same targets set by their respective employers.
Just like Mwase, Amrouche has been challenged to lead the Zebras to the 2021 Afcon finals and ‘do well’ in the World Cup qualifiers.
Mwase said during the week that he was confident of beating Botswana in the two-legged qualifier to make it to the group stage of the World Cup qualification campaign.
“Football is interesting. You plan one thing and another thing happens. But hard work cannot be substituted. We will work hard to get the result and qualify for the group stage,” he said.
His counterpart is also confident that Botswana can make it beyond the first round knockout stage.
“This is a challenge. I saw the [Zebras] team play many times. Botswana has talent,” Amrouche is quoted by BBC.
“The play is good, but if you want to reach the highest level, we must change our attitude, how to think, and how to develop.
“I have done my research about Botswana football. I assure you, I will do the best I can to take the team higher.”
The return leg is set for Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on Tuesday after just two days’ rest.
The aggregate winner will proceed to the second round where alongside 13 others, they will join 26 seeded teams to form 10 groups of four teams each.
The winner of these groups will be paired against each other and battle it out in the third round with the five winners qualifying for the Qatar finals.
The last quarter of the year is going to be a busy one for the Flames, who will also be involved in Afcon qualifiers.
The Flames will kick off their Group B qualifiers with back-to-back matches between November 11 and 19. Malawi host the preliminary round winner between South Sudan and Seychelles in a mid-week fixture before flying to Uganda to face Uganda’s Cranes, according to a fixture released by Confederation of African Football (CAF) last month.