The Flames are set to start a new chapter this Saturday when they set out on their 2020 Championship of African Nations (Chan) qualification campaign against e-Swatini’s Sihlangu away in Manzini.
Malawi kick off their campaign under the guidance of interim coach Meke Mwase’s guidance following the expiry of Belgian tactician Ronny van Geneugden’s (RVG) contract.
The first-round, first leg encounter is slated for Mavuso Sports Centre from 3pm and captain John Lanjesi said they are looking forward to starting on a new slate.
“The morale in camp is high. We loosened up on Friday morning before getting the feel of the match venua later on and we are set.
“The weather has also been kind as it is not that different to Malawi. “We have beenlebelled as underachievers for far too long and we are determined to change that,” he said.
The Flames skipper said having drawn against Morocco’s Atlas Lions 0-0 in their last 2019 Africa Cup of Nations’ (Afcon) qualifier, they want to continue from where they left.
On his part, Mwase said he is relishing a good start.
“Getting a win away is always a bonus and that is what we will be aiming for, but avoiding a defeat will be satisfactory all the same.
“Nevertheless, we’ll have to exercise caution knowing that we will be playing away,” he said.
Mwase has beefed up his side by recalling veteran forwards Chiukepo Msowoya, Gastin Simkonda and Zicco Mkanda.
On the approach for today’s showdown, the Flames caretaker coach said they will go for an early goal so as to unsettle the hosts.
On the other hand, according to Swazi Observer, Sihlangu head coach Kostadin Papic has recalled two seasoned players in Mbabane Swallows goalkeeper Sandanezwe Mathabela and Green Mamba’s Mthunzi Mkhontfo for the clash.
He has also roped in new faces in the squad in the likes of Royal Leopard defender Melusi Frank Dlamini and Manzini Sun-downs’ youngster Bonginkhosi Dlamini.
Papic is also reported to have drafted in Under-17 national team captain and Young Buffaloes starlet Lindani Matsenjwa, but overlooked two veterans in Tony Tsa-bedze and Wonder Nhleko.
The Flames are ranked 128 in Coca Cola Fifa World Rankings while e-Swatini are on 143 In head-to-head, the two teams have met 19 times from which the Flames have won 11, drawn six and lost three.
The last time the two teams met was in September 2016 in a 2017 Afcon qualifier and the Flames won 1-0 in Blantyre via Gerald Phiri Jnr’s strike.
The last time they met in e-Swatini was also in a 2017 Afcon qualifier which ended in a two-all draw.