AFCON2021: Flames in must-win match against Zimbabwe

Flashback: Malawi vs Zimbabwe

The setting is Bafoussam Stadium in Cameroon where the Malawi national football team will face Zimbabwe in their Africa Cup of Nations campaign deciding match.

The two sides share the same fate having lost their Group B opening matches despite their hard work and creating hosts of chances.

Malawi almost beat Guinea, if not for missing chances that their opponents utilised to get a goal.

The same with the Warriors, after an entertaining play against Senegal, they gave it away in the dying minutes courtesy of Sadio Mane's penalty kick. 

Malawi vs Guinea
Peter Banda (R) stars for Malawi in the game against Guinea

With no point each, the two teams will have no excuse going into this match considering that all their players have been cleared of COVID-19, which means they are all available for selection.

The two teams are not strangers to each other, having played in the Cosafa and other competitions on many occasions..

If we go by the statistics from the previous matches, Zimbabwe are favourites for this match, but that does not make Malawi a small team.

Ready for the challenge: Flames
Ready for the challenge: Flames

Group B top teams, Senegal and Guinea will also clash before the Flames and Zimbabwe match.

This gives Malawi a chance to march into the game with knowledge of the outcome of the first match. 

With the full squad available for selection, Malawi's coach, Meck Mwase thinks that is the best for him.

"We cannot say there is selection headache because this is what we wanted. It is better we have options than how it was in the first match. Otherwise, we are ready for the match, for we know how important this match is," he said. 

MIJ FM sports reporter, Mwakhele Kaliyande also weighed in on the availability of all Flames players, including those on reserve, saying the coach is right that it provides no dilemma to the team.

Back in the squad: Mhango
Back in the squad: Mhango

"I personally think like it's not any sort of dilemma for the coach as he even alluded to after the 1-0 defeat to Guinea that he missed some of his players which forced him to play some players in improvised position unlike their usual. However it's a tricky fixture considering that they will be facing a different side altogether. But I should believe that as a technical panel they followed the Zimbabwe game as they played the Senegalese as that will determine how we can capitalise on the weaknesses.

"Our dominance in the previous game did not yield result as we failed to take our chances, going into the Zimbabwe game there must be a lot of movements when going forward, our defence needs to tighten their belts and close down the spaces.

"Zimbabweans are very good at man marking which really worked for them in the Senegal game hence we need to watch out for that," she said. 

Mwase is likely to feature Kakhobwe in goals, while Stanley Sanudi will take up his place at the back, probably replacing Gomezgani Chirwa. 

Hitman Gabadinho Mhango, will surely make it in the first eleven to partner Khuda Muyaba, while replacing Yamikani Chester. 

Gerald Phiri junior, who returned from his retirement is also likely to feature for the Flames.