Kick-off: Saturday, June 6th, 2009 at 12:30 GMT.
Kamuzu Stadium, Blantyre, Malawi
Kamuzu Stadium, Blantyre, Malawi
A Battle Of Outsiders
In a Group E that is completed by continental heavyweights such as Ivory Coast and Guinea, both Burkina Faso and Malawi are vying for the same third spot that would allow them to be part of the next African Cup of Nations next year in Angola.
If both sides have been declaring that their goal was to get that ticket to the first African World Cup in South Africa next summer, they’re more than likely to focus on the more realistic goal of getting one of the three qualifying spots to the next ACN.
Malawi did not start things off as well as the Flames had hoped after being mauled by the Elephants of Ivory Coast during the game that witnessed the now infamous Stadium Houphouet Boigny stampede that left nineteen people dead in March and relegated the result to a secondary consideration.
Nevertheless, Malawi national team coach Kinnah Phiri is trying to make sure that match is forgotten as soon as possible and wants this Saturday’s game to be symbolic of things to come.
“There are five games left; we have a lot of time in order to get back in the race. Nothing at all is lost for the moment, but we absolutely have to place ourselves as soon as possible” said the Malawi great, adding that, “Ever since [I] arrived, [we] haven’t lost a single home game yet.” Indeed the Malawi Flames have had impressive successes against Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo with the home supporters present.
Most recently, Malawi won against Rwanda in a 2-0 home victory that got the fans hoping for a surprise as Burkina Faso managed to beat Guinea in Ouagadougou (4-2 in a very damaging upset against the Syli National) last March. As Kinnah Phiri points out, both teams are untamed on home soil.
“The public is going to give us wings. I’m not afraid to tell you home-court advantage will play a major role, because Malawi fans are extraordinary. People always come in numbers to root for us and that gives us supplementary energy. A victory against Burkina Faso would do us a lot of good.
"That would allow us to face the trip in Guinea with a lot of confidence. The Guineans already lost their first game and they’re about to face Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), who possesses a superior team. They would be in a very tough spot when we ourselves go to Conakry in two weeks.”
A very ambitious discourse to say the least, but we can assure you that Malawi would be very content just to qualify for Angola as they have not been seen on the Continental stage since 1984, and Phiri knows that better than anyone.
The Stallions Are Trying to Surprise Everyone
Burkina Faso is trying to repeat what Togo did four years ago, which is stun the world and take the spot that everyone thought would go to the favourite of the group. In Togo’s case, it was Senegal and in Burkina Faso’s case, it could well be the elephants. After stunning most by humiliating the Syli National of Guinea in a 4-2 win, the Stallions are looking forward to confirming that result by beating a realistically less skilled Malawi team, even though they’re mighty at home.
The Burkinabe have long been good at home but ever since Portuguese coach Paulo Duarte came into the picture, they seem to be even better, refusing to concede anything at home and giving a pretty solid performance away too.
With a striker as prolific as Moumouni Dagano and prospects of having Nice’s Habib Bamogo join them before the end of the year (Bamogo has been called up but there are problems with the French Federation and the FIFA as he played for the French U-21 and didn’t choose Burkina until he was 26, this year), their offensive sector seems set on scoring often.
The only thing that could stop the Stallions seems to be their coach, who decided to take on French side Le Mans (MUC72) for the next season and will be coaching the National team until March 31, 2010.
If this has been done before with great success (Guus Hiddink comes to mind), it has hardly ever been done in Africa, especially in a year where there is an African Cup of Nations. Already raising eyebrows in Burkina Faso, Duarte has so far been backed up by his FA, who have not seen similar success since Burkina Faso themselves organised the African Cup of Nations in 1998.
With a very serious approach, Burkina-Faso could win the match and be facing Ivory Coast on June 20, at home in Ouagadougou, with a similar number of points. That would make for an interesting scenario to say the least.
Kinnah Phiri decided to call up a very strong squad of thirty players in order to get them all involved during the next two weeks and thus making sure that any injury that arises will be covered and that all players get the same level of commitment during the experience. The squad has been gathered for two weeks in a bunker where their only luxury was to go out and vote in the National elections. Phiri relies heavily on local talent and national players playing in the region.
Squad: Swadick Sanudi (Dynamos FC, South Africa), Charles Swini (ESCOM Utd, Malawi), Simplex Nthala (MTL Wanderers, Malawi), Davie Chisambi (Moyale Barracks, Malawi), Peter Mponda (Black Leopards FC, South Africa) Allan Kamanga (Dynamos F.C, South Africa), Moses Chavula (Nathi Lions FC, South Africa), Elvis Kafoteka (ESCOM Utd, Malawi), Wisdom Ndhlovu (Young Africans FC, Tanzania), Jacob Ngwira (ESCOM Utd, Malawi), Hellings Mwakasungula (Santos FC, South Africa), Robert Ng’ambi (Black Leopards FC, South Africa), Joseph Kamwendo (Orlando Pirates FC, South Africa), Jimmy Zakazaka (Bay Utd FC, South Africa),Davie Banda (Red Lions FC, Malawi), Tawonga Chimodzi (Santos FC, South Africa), Chiukepo Msowoya(Mozambique), Peter Wadabwa(ESCOM Utd, Malawi), Atusaye Nyondo (Silver Strikers, Malawi), James Sangala(Clube Desportivo Primeiro de Agosto, Angola), Sankhani Mkandawire (Bullets FC, Malawi), Itaye Nundwe (Silver Strikers, Malawi), Harry Nyirenda (MTL Wanderers, Malawi), Chikumbutso Kanyenda (Bullets FC, Malawi), Richard Chande (Silver Strikers, Malawi), Clement Mvula (Tigers FC, Malawi), Peter Mgangira (Silver Strikers, Malawi), Peter Mwenda (Silver Strikers, Malawi), Peter Pindani (Bullets FC, Malawi), Strikers:Russell Mwafulirwa (IFK Norrkoping FC, Sweden), Fischer Kondowe (Bloemfontein Celtic, South Africa), Essau Kanyenda (Kamaz FC, Russia), Sankhani Nyirenda (Bullets FC, Malawi)
For the game against Malawi, Paulo Duarte went with a much leaner team of 26 pre-selected players, leaving with them on Friday, May 29 and announcing to his players outside of the country that he would be coaching them simultaneously with French club Le Mans. Duarte and the Burkinabe FA are still waiting on FIFA and their eventual approval of Habib Bamogo’s request to play with them in the future.
Squad: Paul Keba KOULIBALY, Jonathan PITROIPA, Narcisse YAMEOGO, Charles KABORE, Moumouni DAGANO, Daouda DIAKITE, Aristide BANCE, Agbre STEPHANE, Yssouf KONE, Wilfried SANOU, Moussa OUATTARA, Mohamed DIARRA, Ousseni ZONGO, Bakary KONE, Patrick ZOUNDI, Boureima MAIGA, Saïdou Madi PANANDETIGUIRI, Mohamed KOFFI, Bebe KAMBOU, Jean Noël LINGANI, Abdul TRAORE, Alain TRAORE, Ibrahim GNANOU, Adama SAWADOGO, Florent ROUAMBA, Yahaya KEBE.
Despite the obvious support they will get with home advantage, Malawi just don’t seem to be good enough to tackle Burkina Faso who have been, despite popular belief, the most impressive side of the group yet. Burkina Faso have a great shot at garnering six points before getting to play against the heavyweights of the group, Ivory Coast. Burkina Faso, if they are properly focused, will not lose this match.
Malawi 1-2 Burkina Faso
Massaër Ndiaye, Goal.com