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Flames face Ivory Coast test

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Meck Mwase

The odds are stacked against Malawi National Football Team in the 2022 Qatar World Cup Group D qualifier against the Ivory Coast at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, this afternoon.

In all fairness, the Flames are underdogs heading into the match as the Elephants have dominated fixtures between the two sides, having won four times, drawn once and lost once in six matches.

The Flames’ only win was a 5-1 thrashing of the West Africans on July 6 1974 in a friendly.

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Meetings between the two sides have been rare, their last match having been on October 10 2009 in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier which ended 1-1 at Kamuzu Stadium.

This was after the Elephants beat Malawi 5-0 away in the first leg.

The Elephants have quality in abundance compared to the Flames, whose major strength is team work.

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To be brutally honest, Malawi winning against Ivory Coast will be a bonus as the Flames did not have proper preparations.

Flames coach Meck Mwase must find a perfect balance in his team to contain speedy wingers such as Wifred Zaha and Nicholas Pepe.

The two England-based stars are likely to be a handful for right back Stanley Sanudi and improvised left back Dennis Chembezi, who must be on top of their game to prevail.

Captain Limbikani Mzava and Charles Petro also face a tough battle to contain goal-scoring machine Sebastian Haller.

Strikers Richard Mbulu, Gabadinho Mhango and Khuda Muyaba will be charged with the responsibility of breaching Ivory Coast’s backline.

Mwase said he believed his troops could cause upset.

“We have done enough research on our opponents. The good thing is that we watch most of their players in European leagues every week. We have a special plan to stop them,” Mwase said.

After today’s meeting, the two sides will travel to Cotonou, Benin, for another meeting on Monday.

Mzava said they would put a gallant show despite having poor preparations.

“We will give our all in the match,” Mzava said in a brief response.

Ivory Coast Coach Patrice Beaumelle is looking to get a positive result against Malawi to maintain top spot in Group D.

The Ivorians lead with four points whereas the Flames are third with three points from two matches, at par with second-placed Cameroon, who are in action against Mozambique.

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