Struggling Malawi national football team, the Flames, will Thursday evening hope for a miracle when meeting Angola’s Black Antelopes in their last Group A match at the ongoing Cosafa Castle Cup.
The match is scheduled for Moruleng Stadium in North West Province, South Africa, where the Flames have lost 2-0 to Tanzania and drawn 0-0 against Mauritius.
The Flames have a remote mathematical chance of qualifying for Sunday’s quarter-final, but Coach Ronny van Geneugden is refusing to throw in the towel.
“Going two games without scoring is not good. But the team has a future,” the Belgian said after the game against Mauritius on Tuesday.
Since being hired in April, van Geneugden has been in charge of six games, beating Comoros 1-0, losing twice by 1-0 margins to Madagascar, translating to three defeats, one win and two draws (plus 0-0 against Kenya).
Last year at the same stage, the Flames, under Ernest Mtawali, beat Angola 3-0 in Namibia and Mauritius 1-0 before exiting the competition after losing 1-0 to Lesotho. Malawi has sunk so low it cannot defeat minnows such as Mauritius and Tanzania.
Going into Thursday’s game, the Flames are bottom of the table with single point and need to score more than three goals past Angola and hope that Tanzania lose to Mauritius to storm into the quarter-finals.
Tanzania and Angola drew 0-0 in another match on Tuesday.
Tanzania (plus two goal difference) and Angola (plus one) have four points and Mauritius (minus one) and Malawi (minus two) one entering the final series of group fixtures.
The overall winner of Group A will meet hosts and defending champions South Africa on Sunday.
During the game against Mauritius, van Geneugden kept faith in Be Forward Wanderers attacker Jabulani Linje and Red Lions forward Innocent Bokosi, but the pair has not scored.
In this afternoon’s encounter, Geneugden will make changes at the back following John Lanjesi’s suspension due to two yellow cards.
Either Lucky Malata or Chisomo Mpachika will likely replace Lanjesi to form a back-three alongside Denis Chembezi and Stanley Sanudi.
So far, Dalitso Sailesi and Sanudi have been the Flames’ best performers at this year’s tournament.
Malawi, the 2002 and 2003 Cosafa Cup finalists, have never won the tournament since its inception 20 years ago.
In 2015, the Flames, under Young Chimodzi, won the Cosafa Plate Section—a competition for losing quarter-finalists having earlier lost to Mozambique on post-match penalties before beating South Africa and Zambia.
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