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Flames draw inspiration from World Cup

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Walter Nyamilandu

Unexpected victories by Japan and Saudi Arabia at the on-going 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar have inspired Football Association of Malawi (Fam) to start believing that upsetting Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers is possible.

The Flames have back-to-back fixtures against Egypt in the qualifiers scheduled for March.

Fam president Walter Nyamilandu said Malawi has all it takes to beat the Pharaohs.

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“We just need to be determined. We should draw inspiration from some of the exciting and incredible performances of small teams at the World Cup. Nothing is impossible in football.

“Having dared Senegal and Morocco at the Afcon finals in Cameroon, we are growing with confidence and shocking Egypt is possible,” Nyamilandu said.

Saudi Arabia are under the tutelage of former Zambia and Ivory Coast coach Herve Renard and came from behind to beat Argentina 2-1.

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Japan also edged Germany on the same scoreline under similar circumstances.

Interestingly, Saudi Arabia Football Association will host the Flames for two weeks in February.

The trip is part of Malawi’s preparations for qualifiers against Egypt.

This will be an opportunity for the Flames to fine-tune as they have been idle during the past two international Fifa windows due to lack of funds.

On the contrary, Egypt were in action and defeated the world’s second best team Belgium 2-1 in an international friendly.

Flames coach Mario Marinica said success hinges on preparations.

“The wins by Japan and Saudi Arabia may indeed be surprises but not very huge. I predicted such results before the World Cup started. Due to the competition taking place at a very unusual time of the year, most countries had no proper time to prepare for it like they did in the past,” Marinica said.

Malawi started the qualifiers with a 2-1 victory over Ethiopia in June but lost 1-0 to Guinea.

However, Group D is wide open as all the teams have three points each.

Ethiopia are top of the group on goal difference whereas the Flames are second. Guinea are third while Egypt are bottom.

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