Flames of hope
Flames face Bright Stars
Malawi national football team’s quest for a third Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualification begins this afternoon when clashing with unfamiliar opponents South Sudan at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
Malawi have been to Afcon finals in 1984 and 2010 but on numerous occasions, the Flames stumbled restricting their appearance just to two.
Ranked 162 on Fifa rankings, South Sudan’s Bright Stars, can haunt any side if overlooked.
Malawi’s Flames, who are ranked 124, can bear witness following their 2-0 loss to South Sudan during the 2015 Cecafa Cup in Ethiopia.
Flames Coach, Meck Mwase, said it was his wish to start strongly to gain confidence ahead of the rest of matches in group B.
“The day we have been waiting is finally here and for sure we are ready for the game. We are happy that the players are fit and ready to play,” he said.
Mwase has foreign land-based players such as Gabadinho Mhango, Gerald Phiri Jnr and Christopher John Banda.
The former TN Stars mentor will miss the services of defenders Charles Petro and Precious Sambani, but he was confident that the likes of Lucky Malata and Nickson Nyasulu can equally deliver.
“When I took over the team I wanted to stick to the same team but unfortunately some are injured. Nevertheless we have some players that are equally good,” he said
Stand-in-captain, Banda, said the foreign legion was eager to make a difference during the match.
“As foreign-based players we are not here just to see our families but we are here for the game and everyone is eager to play. We are looking forward to the game. We need to start well to give us the push to fight on. As players we are ready to give the nation something smile about,” he said.
However, South Sudan Coach, Tush Besong, said it was their mission to get a good result.
“It is a game of football and both sides are hoping for a good result. So it’s either you win draw or worse you lose,” he said.
The Flames last month drew one-all with Lesotho in a friendly whereas the Bright Stars reached the group stages after booting out Seychelles.