‘No room for error’
Flames date Mambas in must-win game
Under-fire Malawi National Football Team Coach Meck Mwase has promised to ring changes to get a positive result against the Mambas of Mozambique the in 2022 Fifa World Cup Group D qualifier.
The two sides square off at Orlando Stadium in Soweto, South Africa, as Flames have opted for the venue following the banning of Bingu National Stadium.
Flames are smarting from a disappointing outing in Yaoundé, where they lost 2-0 to the Indomitable Lions who top group D, with the Flames anchoring the pool.
Mighty Wanderers goalkeeper Richard Chipuwa is expected to start in goals, replacing Ernest Kakhobwe, whereas Captain Limbikani Mzava will marshal the defence with Stanley Sanudi, Chembezi Dennis.
Gabadinho Mhango and Khuda Muyaba, having started on the bench in Yaoundé, are expected to start against the Mambas.
Though playing a home match in unfamiliar territory, Mwase has opted for an attacking formation as the last training session showed that there were places for Peter Banda, Richard Mbulu and Gerald Phiri Junior.
Mwase was hopeful that the changes would bring a positive result.
“We need to win this match to remain in contention. We analysed the mistakes we made in Cameroon and we cannot afford to lose,” he said.
Mwase came under-fire for leaving striker Gabadinho Mhango and midfielder Chikoti Chirwa on the bench. Pundits also questioned why goalkeeper Kakhobwe, who is struggling for game time at Nyasa Big Bullets, was maintained in goals.
This will be the first ever meeting between the Flames and Mambas in World Cup qualifiers.
The two sides have met 38 times, with Malawi winning 16 times whereas Mozambique won 11 matches. Other 11 games ended in stalemate.
The last time the two sides met was during the Cosafa tournament in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where Malawi lost 2-0 on July 11 2021.
Meanwhile, Mozambique Coach Horácio Gonçalves has included 13 players that were part of the Mambas’ squad during the Cosafa championship last year.
His charges drew 0-0 with Ivory Coast to kick-start their campaign.
Gonçalves surprised many people by leaving out some players considered experienced, such as “captain” Elias Pelembe (Royal AM, South Africa), central defender Edson Sitoi (Bordeaux, France), Reginaldo Faite (Kaisar, Kazakhstan) and Stenley Ratifo (CFR Pforzheim, Germany).
Football analyst David Kanyenda observed that Mozambique were a defensive side, having forced Ivory Coast to a barren draw.
“Gabadinho Mhango and Richard Mbulu must start as they are a steady source of goals in crucial fixtures. We need to play a perfect game, especially in defence where we are often error-prone,” he said
Cameroon top Group D with three points while Ivory Coast are second with a point. Mozambique lie third with a point. Malawi anchor the pool without a point.