Kick-off: Saturday, October 10, 14:30 CET.
Kamuzu Stadium, Blantyre, Malawi
Kamuzu Stadium, Blantyre, Malawi
All The Pressure Is On Malawi
The Flames managed a startling comeback in September when they came from a goal behind to beat Guinea 2-1 courtesy of second half strikes from lethal forward Chiukepo Msowoya. This was a great result as Guinea boast a cabal of great players, despite their current weak form.
However, Malawi sit at the foot of Group E with only three points from four outings. Without doubt, they are out of contention for the 2010 World Cup and their dream now is to steal one of the two remaining spots for the African games in Angola. To achieve this, the Flames must get something at home, where they face the mighty Elephants, who whipped them 5-0 in an earlier encounter.
Malawi, who are ranked in position 105 in the latest FIFA rankings, have faced Cote d’Ivoire four times in the past and have lost in all those encounters. In fact, they have only scored one goal against the ten they have conceded.
But the Flames have proved many times in the past that they can beat the best on the continent. If they can hold their own and get something out of the Saturday encounter, an appearance in Angola will certainly be possible.
A Draw Is Just Fine
The Elephants have amassed the maximum 12 points from their last four matches, and because of the way results have gone elsewhere, much of the hard work has been done and qualifying appears a mere formality now. This should not prove an arduous task for the star-studded team, who are currently camping in Paris, France itching for D-Day.
Last month, the Elephants, who are ranked 20th in the latest FIFA standings, made their intentions of going to South Africa clear when they hammered the hapless Burkina Faso 5-0. The focus on qualification in the team was captured by goalkeeper Boubacar Barry, who was quoted on the CAF website saying that that, despite requiring only one point, the team would be cautious in their two remaining matches.
"Mathematically, everything is possible; we're just one point from being there," he said. "We still have two matches though. We have a trip to Malawi and a final home match against Guinea, and we know that these confrontations will not be very easy. So we will not relax, and we will stay focused and serious.”
With the legion of talent and experience in his team, coach Vahid Halilhodzic will be spoilt for choice regarding who to pick on Saturday.
21-06-09 Guinea 2-1 Malawi
06 -07-09 Malawi 3-1 Swaziland
05 -09-09 Malawi 2-1 Guinea
20-06-09 Burkina Faso 2-3 Cote D’Ivoire
12-08-09 Tunisia 0-0 Cote D’Ivoire
05-09-09 Cote D’Ivoire 5-0 Burkina Faso
Excitement is sweeping across Malawi because the prospect of their junior team participating for the first time in the Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria is morale boosting. This in itself can be the motivation to spur the senior team to raise their game on Saturday against the Ivory Coast giants. Coach Kinnah Phiri has already called to camp a number of new players to bolster his squad. They includes Godfrey Banda, Noel Mkandawire and Peter Wadabwa among others.
Goalkeepers: Swadick Sanudi, Trust Lunda, Peter Mponda, Elvis Kafoteka.
Defenders: Moses Chavula, James Sangala, Wisdom Ndlovu, Jacob Ngwira, Godfery Banda.
Midfielders: Fisher Kondowe, Joseph Kamwendo, Hellings Mwakasungula, Daniel Chitsuro, Dave Banda.
Strikers: Chiukepo Msowoya, Russel Mwafulirwa, Esau Kanyenda, Peter Wadabwa.
Coach Vahid Halilhodzic has called Seydou Doumbia to replace the injured Boubacar Sanogo. The 21-year-old will win his third cap for the Elephants. The Bosnian manager has also called up defender Diarrasouba Viera for the first time, discarding experienced Abdoulaye Meite in the process.
Halilhodzic will benefit from the excellent form a number of players are displaying at club level. Didier Drogba is exemplary with Chelsea, Yaya Toure is at the peak of his game for Barcelona, while Didier Zokora is proving to be a revelation for his new Spanish club, Sevilla.
Goalkeepers: Boubacar Barry Copa, Ibrahim Kone, Vincent Angban.
Defenders: Brou Angoua, Emmanuel Eboue, Constant Djakpa, Arthur Boka, Kolo Toure, Guy Demel, Souleymane Bamba, Viera Diarrasouba.
Midfielders: Yaya Toure, Didier Zokora, Emerse Fae, Kouamatien Kone, Jean-Jacques Gosso, Cheikh Tiote.
Forwards: Kader Keita, Gervinho, Salomon Kalou, Didier Drogba, Sekou Cisse.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Chiukepo Msowoya - He is lethal and the hopes of Malawi advancing lie on his shoulders. The prolific striker has so far netted six goals. The brace against Guinea last month gave Malawi their first win in the last round of qualifiers. Scoring against Cote d’Ivoire will be the ultimate test for the forward.
Didier Drogba - This is possibly the wrong time for any defender to come face to face with Didier Drogba. The striker is on fire in the English Premier League, where if he is not scoring, he is giving the last killer pass. Malawian defenders will only need to lose concentration for a second for Drogba to strike.
Despite only needing a point to qualify, the smart money is still on the visiting side maintaining their 100 per cent record.
Malawi 0-2 Cote d’Ivoire
James Momanyi, Goal.com