Afcon2021: Flames in do-or-die clash against Senegal

Malawi Flames
  • President Chakwera pledges monetary rewards

By exactly 6 o'clock, this Tuesday evening, the Malawi national football team will have started their last task in the Africa Cup of Nations group stages against highly-rated Senegal.

Both sides march into the game with a big boost considering their negative outcome of the COVID-19 test.

On Monday, Malawi welcomed back their Head of Technical Panel, Mario Marinica, who missed the previous two games against Guinea and Zimbabwe, while all other 28 players tested negative.

Senegal had also have goalkeeper, who has also been named the World's Best Goalkeeper by Fifa, Chelsea's Edouard Mendy, and Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly back in the squad from isolation. 

The hope for the Flames lies in their masterclass performance against their fellow Southern Region representative at the competition, Zimbabwe, where they won 2-1 last Friday.

Gaba
Carrying the hopes of a nation: Gaba

The Lions of Teranga have not been on their best in the competition, having won one match against Zimbabwe from the spot.

Unlike Malawi, the Senegalese have not scored from open play, despite being second in Group B from Guinea with four points each. 

Gabadinho Mhango, the man who scored the brace for Malawi, Francisco Madinga, the midfielder who provided an assist to Mhango in the first match, are all ready to unleash another terror on the Lions of Teranga. 

Flames coach, Meck Mwase said they are not afraid of the names in Senegal camp.

“We want to finish the group stage on a winning note even though we know our opponents are tough. This gives us motivation to even work harder. I told my players they have got an opportunity to make history.

“We have all seen the many surprises so far in the tournament, and our opponents must be prepared as it will not be a smooth ride. We only have one player missing and that is our captain, but we have equally good players that can replace him as we fight to qualify," Mwase was quoted by CAF Online.

The Flames' vice captain, John Banda also told the publication that they are ready for the task.

“Senegal look good on paper, but they have to know our game against them will be the biggest game of our lives. We believe we can beat them even though they are the favorites. We are motivated by surprises in the tournament, and we believe this is our golden opportunity every Malawian is waiting for.

“It is a fact Senegal has big stars, but our game plan is to surprise them and qualify. It may look like a huge task, but we are ready for the challenge ahead," he said. 

Senegal coach, Aliou Cisse also expressed his confidence ahead of the match saying he knows they are a playing a motivated side.

Meanwhile, the Flames have received a huge boost, following the monetary pledge by President Lazarus Chakwera. 

Chakwera has wished the team well, and pledged to give each player who will play in the Senegal match K1 million, and K500, 000 for those on reserve. 

The two teams recently met at the COSAFA in South Africa, where the Teranga Lions participated as guests and won 2-1.

However, this is a whole different team, since they did not have some of the names in the squad. 

Malawi needs to win the match to jump to the top of the group, or at least a draw to boost their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages.