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Flames host China’s Guangzhou R&F

Flames caretaker coach, Gerald Phiri Snr, faces a daunting task this afternoon as his side takes on Chinese Super League side, Guangzhou R&F, during the official opening ceremony of the newly-built Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.

The ceremony will be graced by President Peter Mutharika and Chinese envoys.

Phiri Snr, who will be assisted by Blue Eagles’ coach, Deklerk Msakakuona, and Premier Bet Wizards technical director, Peter Mponda as team manager, assembled a 32 member squad a fortnight ago for the match.

All eyes will indeed be on Phiri and his assistants as they are expected to put the icing on the cake by emerging victorious from the match.

A loss will not be taken lightly as it will spoil the party mood associated with the official opening of a valuable national asset.

Phiri Snr was appointed against the background of the poor performance of the country’s Under-20 team at last year’s Cosafa Cup tournament in South Africa where it failed to win a match.

The Azam Tigers coach will certainly be out to prove a point in this afternoon’s match after certain quarters expressed dissatisfaction with his appointment.

But Phiri, while admitting that not everyone in the soccer fraternity is happy that he is in charge of the Flames for the day’s match, called on support for the team from all quarters for the sake of national unity.

“As members of the technical panel, we have done our part in preparing the players. What remains is for the entire nation to rally behind the team. The players cannot perform if they are not supported,” Phiri said.

He described morale in camp ahead of the game as being high as the players are excited to play against a team that is in the country for the first time.

Phiri’s counterpart, Dragan Stojkovic, confidently spoke of his team winning the friendly tie.

“We play technical football and we want to dominate in all sections. We will be passing the ball around. That is what makes us a great team,” Stojkovic said in giving away part of his game plan.

He said Guangzhou is in the country to prove to Malawians that China is also good at football.

Guangzhou R&F is based in Guangzhou City and is owned by Chinese property developers, R&F Properties.

The club has close links with English Premier League giants, Chelsea.

Chinese football has grown over the years with several high profile players signing for various clubs in the country.

Clubs in China’s Super League are reportedly paying huge sums to their players as they aim at growing their football brands across the world.

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