Malawi and Zambia share more than borders but their national football teams are also sworn foes in the football circles.
The Flames of Malawi and Zambia’s Chipolopolo Boys renew their rivalry in a strength-testing match at National Heroes Stadium, in Lusaka Zambia this afternoon.
It has been over 10 months since the Flames played a competitive match as football was suspended due to Covid-19. But the match against Zambia this afternoon would be a timely opportunity for Flames coach Meck Mwase to fine-tune his troops for Afcon.
Mwase has assembled a strong squad comprising foreign based stars including Orlando Pirates striker Gabadinho Mhango, Las Vegas Lights attacker Yamikani Chester, UD Songo midfielders John Banda and Schumacher Kuwali, Baroka FC duo of Gerald Phiri Junior and Richard Mbulu.
Blossoming defender Charles Petro of Moldovan outfit Sheriff FC joined the squad Tuesday in Zambia ahead of the encounter. Mwase has also travelled with some local players including Stanley Sanudi, Chimwemwe Idana and Peter Banda.
The team flew to Zambia on a chartered plane on Monday morning and had a loosening session later in the afternoon. Addressing journalists in Zambia Tuesday, Mwase was confident of getting a positive result in today’s match.
“We believe that Zambia will give us a good game as we prepare for the match against Burkina Faso. We have brought a strong squad considering that we stayed for many months without playing football. We are here to learn and we hope that Zambia will also learn from us,” said the former defence pillar.
Since 2000, Malawi and Zambia have met 12 times in all competitions with the Flames winning on six occasions whereas Chipolopolo have won four times. Two matches between the two sides have ended in draws.
On his part, Phiri Junior, who is the vice-captain, said the morale was high in camp.
“The game against Zambia is always like two brothers fighting so there is a lot at stake,” the Baroka attacker said. Defender Limbikani Mzava (free agent) and youngster Francisco Madinga Junior misses today’s match due to various reasons.
Last year, Malawi lost 1-0 to Zambia in a friendly match at Sunset Stadium. Zambia coach Milutin Sredojevic announced a 28-man squad for the Malawi, Kenya and South Africa games. However, only locally based players will feature in a friendly match against the Flames. The Flames are preparing for the back-to-back crucial matches against the Stallions next month. After the match against Zambia, the Flames will host Zimbabwe at Kamuzu Stadium on Sunday.
In the Afcon qualifiers, the Flames are third with three points in Group B having beaten South Sudan 1-0 at Kamuzu Stadium but lost 2-0 away to Uganda in Kampala. Uganda and Burkina Faso are joint leaders with four points each from two games whereas South Sudan anchor the group without a point.