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What statistics say about the Flames

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Malawi national football team, the Flames, go into the 2018 edition of Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Castle Cup as underdogs having been ranked among the regional football showpiece’s worst performers in the competition’s history.

“Mozambique, Malawi and Lesotho have lost the most games (19), though the latter have the worst loss percentage as their defeats have come from just 39 games,” www.cosafa.com reads.

In Cosafa’s history, the Flames have registered the most defeats, 19, from 43 matches, while winning 12 and drawing 12, representing a winning rate of 27.90 percent.

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However, the Mambas of Mozambique and Crocodiles of Lesotho have played fewer games—42 and 3— respectively, effectively placing the Flames at the basement of the rung of the underperformers.

Malawi have this year been drawn in Group B of the preliminary round alongside Angola, Botswana and Mauritius.

Additionally, the statistics place Malawi’s players as among the lowest individual scorers with all-time top scorers being Jones Nkhwazi, Esau Kanyenda and Gabadinho Mhango at three goals each.

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Mhango scored all the goals in the Flames’ 3-0 win over Angola in the 2016 edition of the competition played in Namibia.

Kanyenda, the Flames’ most successful player in Cosafa’s history after winning 2002 Cosafa Player of the Series, said Malawi does not excel in the competition due to poor preparations.

“We may think it is an easy group but it is not. The so-called small teams have improved but we do not seem to have improved. The coach should take a very strong team to Cosafa Cup and ensure sound preparations,” the Be Forward Wanderers veteran striker told The Daily Times three weeks ago.

The Flames’ players share such unenviable statistics with South Africa’s Gift Motupa, Pollen Ndlanya and Patrick Mayo who are Bafana Bafana’s top scorers in the competition with three goals each.

Ironically, two of Mayo’s three goals were scored against Malawi in the 2002 final.

Malawi has never won the Cosafa Cup but reached the final in 2002 and 2003, losing 4-0 and 4-1 to South Africa and Zimbabwe respectively.

In 2015, the Flames won the losers’ Cosafa Plate Championship which involves teams that have crashed out of the quarter-finals of the main competition.

Overall, in terms of performance, Malawi is ranked eighth out of 14 countries in the region with Zimbabwe Warriors 33 wins, 11 draws and eight defeats in 53 games making them the most successful team in the region.

“Zimbabwe are also closing in on 100 goals and are just six short, making it almost certain they will be the first side to reach that landmark in the next few years.

“Zambia (76 goals) has the next highest number of goals, with Namibia (62) and South Africa (54) the only other sides to pass the half-century mark,” reads the Cosafa website.

The Warriors are the defending champions and record five-time Cosafa Cup winners followed by South Africa and Zambia at four then Angola (three) and Namibia (one).

The 2018 edition of the Cosafa Cup kicks off from May 27 to June 9 in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa.

Such statistics should jolt Flames Coach Ronny van Geneugden and Football Association of Malawi into action, take heed of Kanyenda’s advice for sound preparations and selection of a strong squad.

Unfortunately, with 22 days to go before the tournament nothing suggests that the Flames’ approach to the competition has changed.

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