Malawi National Football Team must be brave and show great character to get a positive result in a 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Guinea at General Lansana Conte Stadium in Conakry tonight.
The Flames head into the match in high spirits after a hard fought 2-1 victory over Ethiopia in the opening match of the campaign at Bingu National Stadium (BNS) in Lilongwe on Sunday.
If the performance against Ethiopia is anything to go by, the match against the West Africans, who lost their opening fixture 1-0 to Egypt, is mission impossible.
The concern that many shared after the narrow win at BNS is that the Ethiopians beat Malawi on possession and looked good enough to bang in the equaliser.
The match between Guinea and Malawi also comes five months after the two sides met at the 2021 Afcon finals in Cameroon.
Guinea won the group stage match 1-0 and The Flames will be looking to avenge defeat.
Syli Nationale have also dominated the last six meetings between the two sides, having won four matches, losing one and drawing one.
Additionally, the odds are stacked against Malawi in this fixture.
The Flames have failed to win a match in West and Central Africa in 28 outings since 1980.
In their last outing to West Africa, The Flames suffered a 2-1 loss to Ivory Coast at Mathieu Kerekou Stadium in Cotonou, Benin.
However, in football records are there to be broken.
Surely, The Flames just need to believe in themselves and come up with a good game plan.
In tonight’s fixture, coach Mario Marinica is expected to change the starting line-up.
Against Ethiopia, Marinica preferred a 4-3-3 system which was too flat and exposed the midfield.
Maintaining this system against Guinea would surely be a mistake for Marinica and a recipe for disaster.
The Flames, who arrived in Guinea on Tuesday night after flying for close to 10 hours from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, are likely to be suffering from the effects of jet lag.
Marinica must, therefore, deploy all tactics in the book that will help the players overcome the negative effects of long distance travel.
Sounding calm and composed, Marinica said Guinea have an advantage over his team.
“We have had a litany of difficulties compared to our opponents. It took us about 26 hours to arrive here and we have had just one training session. But we are prepared for this match just like any other. We are ready to win and make Malawi proud,” he said.
Once again, Marinica urged fans to guard against harbouring too many expectations.
The Romanian is likely to maintain Charles Thom in goals whereas Stanley Sanudi, Lawrence Chaziya, Dennis Chembezi and Gomezgani Chirwa are the candidates for the backline.
In midfield, Chikoti Chirwa or Charles Petro are expected to start alongside John Banda and Francisco Madinga. Upfront, two-goal hero Gabadinho Mhango and Khuda Muyaba will also start but Stain Davie may pave the way for a midfielder.
Ahead of the match, Banda said the players remain focused.
“We know it is possible to get a positive result and we remain confident. Of course, Guinea are a good team but good teams can also be beaten. So we will do our best to win,” Banda said.
Head to head
2022-Guinea 1 Malawi 0
2016-Malawi 1 Guinea 2
2016-Malawi 0 Guinea 0
2009-Malawi 2 Guinea 1
2009-Guinea 2 Malawi 1
2005-Guinea 3 Malawi 1