Flames coach Ernest Mtawali has promised to reshuffle his squad when meeting impressive South Sudan in today’s final group C match which he described as very important.
“The game against South Sudan is very important as we want to finish on top of the group and play on Tuesday against the third best qualifying team,” Mtawali said.
The Flames’ game will be played at 60,000-seater Bahir Dar Stadium, which is still under construction in this northwest Ethiopian city with a population of 200,000.
Malawi has already nailed down a quarter-final place, but await the identity of their opponent from either group A or C which are very closely contested with Tanzania and Kenya leading respectively.
Top two teams in each group and two best third-placed teams progress, and Mtawali wants more time for his players to recover from gruelling group qualifiers. The rest of the games from the quarter-final will be played in Addis Ababa.
“If we finish second, it means we will play on Monday and we do not want that. Sudan is a very good team, very physical,” Mtawali explained.
“We need players who can keep the ball down, so I will make changes. I brought 19 players and I will give all of them a chance. I need to build a winning mentality by creating competition among the players.”
With striker Schumacher Kuwali out serving a red card suspension, Chawanangwa Kawonga might get a starting role, whereas Gerald Phiri Jnr could pave the way for Yamikani Chester.
Pil irani Zonda, Richard Chipuwa and Levison Maganizo are some Flames players yet to get a run here.
South Sudan goalkeeper and captain Juma Ginaro expects a tough match against Malawi tomorrow.
“We are happy that we have picked a point against a strong Sudan side,” Ginaro told reporters after the draw on Wednesday.
Malawi should watch out for towering striker Bruno Sebit and Kamis Lyon who scored when beating Djibouti 2-0 on Monday.
South Sudan are deadly on set-pieces and aerial balls as they have very tall players some at 1.9 metres.
In another match to be played today, bottom-placed Djibouti take on third-positioned Sudan who drew 0-0 against second-ranked South Sudan (four points) on Wednesday. Djibouti have no point while Sudan have one.
In the other games played on Wednesday in Addis Ababa, defending champions Kenya and Burundi settled for a one-all draw. while hosts Ethiopia recovered from their loss in the opening match to Rwanda to beat Somalia 2-0 in front of a capacity crowd.
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