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Pharaohs in Flames way

Malawi in tricky Afcon qualifiers group

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HIGHLY RATED—Salah

Newly appointed Malawi National Football Team Coach Mario Mariani Marinica has expressed fear after his charges were drawn against Mohamed Salah’s Egypt, Guinea and Ethiopia in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group D qualifiers.

Flames, having qualified for the 33rd edition of Afcon, face A daunting task to qualify for next year’s final as both Egypt and Guinea have star-studded sides with players plying in top European leagues.

Marinica, speaking Tuesday soon after the draw, said it was a tough group.

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“All the three teams have an upper hand against Malawi. But we need to believe ourselves and analyse our opponents. We have our chances to qualify for Afcon finals,” Marinica told this paper.

He reiterated the statements through an audio message which was released on Football Association of Malawi Media Sharing forum.

“All the teams have their chances but this time our group seems to be a very tough group. All the opponents have a very good pedigree. They have very good track record. If you are to look at Egypt, they have fantastic team and players. So it is not easy. Guinea have a much better record against us. Even if you look at the last match we played against Ethiopia, they won against Malawi 4-0. All the teams have an upper hand against Malawi,” he said.

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However, he did not rule the Flames out of the race.

“Like we did at Afcon [finals] we have to believe in our chances. We have to stay together. We have to be very well prepared and organised. We have to analyse our opponents. See their strengths identify their weaknesses,” he said.

The draw took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, last night.

All the four teams in Group D qualified for the 2021 Afcon finals edition held in Cameroon early this year in which Malawi exited in the Round of 16 following a 2-1 loss to Morocco.

Interestingly, Guinea and Malawi were in the same Group B of the 2021 Afcon finals.

Guinea defeated Malawi 1-0 in the opening match of the Afcon finals.

Malawi were last drawn against the Pharaohs of Egypt in the first phase of the 2010 Afcon and World Cup joint qualifiers.

Malawi beat Egypt at home 1-0 but lost away 2-0 in Cairo.

In addition, the Flames were drawn against Guinea in the second phase of the qualifiers.

During the 2021 edition, the Flames qualified with 10 points after finishing second, just two points behind Burkina Faso.

Flames legend Peterkins Kayira said the Flames were drawn in a tough group.

“We need to exercise caution. The fact that all other teams were also at Afcon finals means that we are in a tough group. However, with good preparations we can qualify for Afcon finals again,” Kayira said.

Sports journalist Frank Kandu of Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) described the group as fair.

“This is a fair group for Malawi. We could not have asked for a better group than this. We have to utilise home games to qualify for the Afcon finals,” Kandu said

Only two teams from each group will advance to the Afcon finals slated for Ivory Coast in June next year.

The Flames will be hoping for back-to-back Afcon qualification having reached the Round of 16 during the 2021 edition in Cameroon in January this year.

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