By: Andrew Cane Chilapondwa
The Malawi National Football team (The Flames) is expected to leave for Conakry, Guinea for their 2017 African Cup of Nations group L qualifier next week.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) General Secretary Suzgo Nyirenda confirmed the development to The Malawi Star saying the squad will leave early because of a friendly match against Sierra Leone on Tuesday before enrooting to Guinea.
“We have arranged a friendly match with Sierra Leone on Tuesday next week before facing Guinea so that the team shapes up for the important fixture. As such, the 25 man delegation will leave this coming Sunday, and professionals will join the team in Free Town,” he said.
Commenting on the news that the West African nation has brought in 12 European based players for the encounter, Nyirenda said that every team will only field 11 players each.
“There is nothing to be afraid of because they will field 11 players only and we will field 11 players, why should we be afraid of them? I believe that we have prepared well for this trip knowing that only a victory will keep our hopes of making it to Gabon alive,” said Nyirenda.
Both teams have a point each following their disastrous opening matches to Zimbabwe and Swaziland respectively. The Flames have got a good record against the West African giants as they have never lost to Guinea in international matches on several occasions.
The team’s mentor Ernest Mtawali told this publication that preparations for the crucial encounter are going satisfactorily well.
“As you can see, the boys are doing well and we are hoping to record positive results in the two matches. We will play our normal game against them in their own backyard. Everybody knows how important these two matches are to the team. Therefore, we are leaving no stone unturned until we register the much-needed victories,” he said.
Beating Guinea in both legs will surely keep the Flames’ dream of a third Afcon appearance alive but anything less will see them out of Gabon.