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Forget about qualifying

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I admired Zimbabwe’s strong will to put behind all their financial woes back home in which they had shoddy preparations for the crucial 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier; that they were forced to travel by road from Harare; arrived on Friday night and accomplished what others had thought was an impossible mission by going back home 2-1 victors over poor Flames.

Their road trip to Malawi must have been a long and tedious one but I am sure their return one was the sweetest having bagged full points to tie with Swaziland, who also beat Guinea 2-1 away.

When the draw for these qualifiers was made, some believed the Flames were in a fair group to earn a qualification as group winners if they do their homework well but after this terrible home result, I doubt if we are going to qualify unless the other three teams give it all away.

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As a reminder, only the group winners will qualify for the 2017 finals and to make sure of doing that we needed to win all our games, especially the home ones.

We next meet Swaziland on September 5 and having done the impossible by beating tough Guinea away, the Swazis will be a tough nut to crack at their home turf.

Unless we beat Swaziland in September and Guinea beat Zimbabwe, then maybe we would start it all over again at three points apiece. Otherwise, Zimbabwe are at an advantage since they play at home and anything other than a loss is an advantage.

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After winning the Plate section of the Cosafa Cup, I thought the Flames had garnered so much confidence to get focused and beat Zimbabwe. They were aided with a friendly against Egypt on Monday last week though they lost 1-2.

The performance in the Plate section was a bit inspiring that maybe we could stand a chance of beating Zimbabwe and Swaziland in September but after how they performed on Saturday, I don’t think they can beat Swaziland.

During the Cosafa, Swaziland started from the group stages and almost qualified into the quarterfinals but bowed out after tying with Madagascar on seven points but Madagascar went through after goal aggregate advantage.

The Swazis beat Lesotho 2-0, Tanzania 1-0 before drawing 1-1 with Madagascar. This is not a team to take lightly like we did with Zimbabwe. Swaziland have improved tremendously over the past few years and they stand a chance of qualifying from this group.

As we are all aware, Guinea are a very strong contender in as far as African football is concerned. They cannot be ruled out of becoming the group winners even after the first loss.

It’s the Flames who cannot make it after the way they have performed at the Cosafa and on Saturday through defensive and goalkeeping blunders. We gifted them with both goals — even the scorer of the second goal, Khama Billiat, was surprised that he had scored because he had intended to cross the ball to first goal scorer Cuthbert Malajira.

I am not a prophet of doom — and I pray that Ernest Mtawali will rectify all the shortfalls especially the defence and the goalkeeping —, but I doubt if the Flames will qualify, let alone collect a point.

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