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Zebras are good meat!

Flames, Zebras in rematch

REMATCH—Mwase (2nd left) and Mpote (2nd right) flanked by Gerald Phiri Jnr (left) and Mogorosi

Fancying Zebras for a braai might not be a bad idea this afternoon but the problem is that the stripy mammals are still alive and might try to stamp on Flames at Kamuzu Stadium.

Nonetheless, Meck Mwase has fetched enough firewood and braai stands are ready as Malawi host Botswana’s Zebras in the 2022 Fifa World Cup preliminary round second leg qualifier.

All what chief chef Mwase and his team need is slaughtering the zebras, slice them nicely, season them with kambuzi and serve them to hungry Malawians.

Surely, ahead of this game, it might not be way off the mark throwing such an analogy of flames and zebras.

Having settled for a 0-0 draw in Botswana on Saturday, the tie is balanced delicately as both teams eye qualification to the second round.

Another goalless draw would pave the way for extra time, then post-match penalties.

Malawi, ranked 126 in the world, need a win at all cost to sail through while 147-ranked Botswana can make it with any scoring draw, courtesy of the away goal rule.

Malawians want it more. They are hungry because the last time they scorched anything at home was in 2017 when they beat Comoros Islands 1-0 in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier.

Such a rare win was all thanks to Gerald Phiri Junior’s expertly taken free-kick that sliced the human wall before nestling into the net.

After that win, what followed for the Flames under Belgian Ronny van Geneugden’s reign were displays that did not translate into goals.

Malawi drew 1-1 with Lesotho in a friendly followed by barren contests with Cameroon and Morocco in the Afcon qualifiers.

In an interim capacity after replacing the Belgian, Mwase also presided over a 1-1 draw with eSwatini at Kamuzu Stadium in an African Nations Championship qualifier.

That makes it four games without a home win for the Flames in two years.

Mwase may wish to learn from the experience of last year when, after forcing a 0-0 draw away, the Flames failed to use home ground advantage against eSwatini.

Addressing the press in Blantyre Monday, Mwase suggested that he had learnt his lessons and it was time to deliver.

“We have to make use of home-ground advantage. But knowing football for what it is, I am not going to make a promise. All I can say is that we are playing at home and it is going to be a different game,” he said.

During Saturday’s first leg in Francistown, Mwase deployed a conservative game-plan that yielded the clean sheet but not the precious away goal.

To win the match, Mwase might wish to start with striker Gabadinho Mhango in a more central striking role to partner Richard Mbulu who was the attacking focal point in Botswana.

Botswana assistant Coach Mogomotsi Mpote, standing in for Adel Amrouche, said he was not bothered by playing away as he was feeling at home.

“I am confident that what I saw in Botswana and today is a totally different game. We have a plan like they [Flames] had in Botswana. We saw one or two things that I believe, working on them properly, can help us get a result,” Mpote said.

In the first leg, Mogorosi controlled the midfield with his passing vision. Botswana deployed a shoot-on-sight policy, switched and floated long balls behind Malawi’s defence.

Malawi, who have won 13 games, drawn six and lost the rest to Botswana in all competitions since 1978, need to watch out for Mogorosi and experienced winger Mogakolodi Ngele.

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