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Mambas in Flames den

Battle in Chan qualifier today

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Cometh the hour, cometh the men! Malawi national football team, the Flames, and Mambas of Mozambique are familiar foes on the international football scene and they face-off in the first leg of the 2023 Nations of African Championship (Chan) qualifier at Bingu National Stadium this afternoon

This is a battle whose winner of the two-legged affair will book a ticket to Chan finals, to be staged in Algeria next year.

The Flames will be seeking a crucial home victory in this competition which features local players before a reverse fixture in Maputo next week.

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In all fairness, this is Flames’ biggest test as the Mambas have on several occasions proved to be tough customers for Malawi in all competitions.

Heading into this afternoon’s match, both teams have assembled a galaxy of stars playing in their respective domestic leagues.

Odds are stacked against the Flames as Mozambique has dominated the last 11 fixtures.

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In the last 11 matches between the two sides, the Flames have only won three matches whereas the Mambas have won seven matches with only match ending in stalemate.

The last time they met was in November 2021 as Mozambique beat Malawi 1-0 at a neutral venue in Benin in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

Probably, Flames coach Marian Mario Marinica will demand maximum concentration from his troops in this afternoon’s match.

“We are looking forward to the game and we think we can get something positive. We hope the players will rise to the occasion and prove that they can withstand the heat at the high level,” he said.

The Flames relocated to Lilongwe early this week after training in Blantyre.

Marinica said his charges were not underrating Mozambique.

“Mozambique has a very good team and they play a passing game. But we have good chances to beat them,” Marinica said.

The Romanian named the final 22-member squad yesterday.

Goalkeeper Charles Thom will likely get the nod ahead of Brighton Munthali.

At the back, he has several options including Precious Sambani, Stanley Sanudi, Kelvin Kadzinje, Miracle Gabeya and Gomezgani Chirwa.

Chimwemwe Idana, Yamikani Chester, Micium Mhone and Chikoti Chirwa will fight for starting places in the midfield.

Upfront, Marinica has Stain Davie, Muhammad Sulumba, Chiukepo Msowoya and Gaddie Chirwa.

Mozambique, who also had off the field incidents due to unpaid bonuses, arrived in the country yesterday with a strong squad.

However, Flames captain Sanudi said the players were geared for the battle.

“We will do everything to win the game. We know they will come hard on us but we will stop them,” Sanudi said.

The Flames have never qualified for the finals of Chan.

Malawi reached the second round after benefiting from Zimbabwe’s Fifa ban whereas Mozambique eliminated Zambia following a 1-0 victory on aggregate.

Meanwhile, the Flames have dropped one place from position 121 to 122 in the world, according to latest Fifa rankings released yesterday.

The Flames are on position 32 in Africa whereas Mozambique, who are ranked 116 in the world, are on position 27.

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