Kick-off: Sunday, November 14, 2009, 16:00 GMT. Stade du 4 Aout, Ouagadougou, Burkina-Faso
Nothing to play for
In this particular game, Burkina-Faso don't have anything to worry about, nor to vie for. With nine points, the Stallions are a solid second in a group where the leader, the Elephants of Cote d'Ivoire, have been qualified for quite a while now (with 13 points) and the third placed side in the group are also four points behind.
The Stallions will then take the opportunity to properly celebrate with their public and reconcile with the press before the Continental summit of January in Angola gets under way. Indeed, national team manager Paulo Duarte has been nice to the local press lately after insulting them as a whole after his team were officially qualified, last October, following their 2-1 win over Guinea in Accra, Ghana.
The Portuguese coach had then revealed how hurt he had been after being vilified in the Burkinabe newspapers for the humiliating 5-0 loss to their Ivorian neighbours. He apologized on Monday to the press, the federation, the people and hopes the healing process begins this weekend. His men will certainly be motivated to win their last home game and insure themselves of their country's support.
Malawi In a Distanced Dual Against Guinea For the Last Remaining Spot Available
Malawi will need to absolutely win this game if they want to insure their qualification for the African Cup of Nations. The Flames are third in the group with four points, which puts them one point ahead of Guinea, who have the chance of making it to Angola if they manage to win against the Elephants of Cote d'Ivoire and the Flames bring back anything less than a victory.
National team manager Kinnah Phiri knows that all they need this weekend is a win. Their task is easier on paper than that of Guinea as Cote d'Ivoire are a much stronger opponent than Burkina-Faso, as they have proven in their blow-out victory mentioned above. However, the Flames were never able to fully dominate the Stallions when they hosted them in Blantyre last June.
Malawi is facing a historical time as this qualification would be their first time on the Continental stage since 1984. The most incredible of scenarios would happen if the Flames lose to the Stallions while the Guineans draw the Ivorians, in that case, both teams would be in identical positions and then we should go to goal difference to pick who would go to Angola next.
After national team Manager Paulo Duarte's heartfelt and surprising apology, everything seems to be back to normal with the Stallions. Their star player Charles Kabore is back with the team after purging his one-match suspension against Guinea and they will definitely want to keep their great track record going. With only three losses in eleven matches, the Stallions are solid, but even more so at home. Duarte has selected a 26-man team for the last game and will try new things.
Squad: Daouda Diakité, Sylvain Kaboré, Adama Sawadogo - Ibrahim Gnanou, Bakary Koné, Kéba Paul Koulibaly, Moussa Ouattara, Mamady Panandétiguiri, Mamadou Tall, Robert Sankara - Charles Kaboré, Mahamoudou Kéré, Mohamed Koffi, Boureima Maïga, Jonathan Pitroipa, Florent Rouamba, Sibiri Alain Traoré, Aziz Nikiéma - Habib Bamogo, Aristide Bancé, Moumouni Dagano, Yssouf Koné, Narcisse Yaméogo, Patrick Zoundi, Alhassane Ouédraogo, Youssouf Ouattara.
The Flames know what they have to do and motivational words must not be hard to find for coach Kinna Phiri. However, the veteran kept his squad lean with only 22 players and leaving a few known players out of it for disciplinary issues. The names of Fisher Kondowe and Grant Lungu are notably missing as the Black Leopards duo's antics tired the coach and it didn't seem necessary to bring them in from South Africa. Local players like Peter ‘Shoes’ Mgangira, Civo United’s Lawrence ‘Teacher’ Mwehiwa and Big Bullets defender Chikumbutso Kanyenda are all left out from the list.
Squad: Swadik Sanudi, Simplex Nthara and Charles Swini - Moses Chavula, Maupo Msowoya, Peter Mponda, James Sangala, Allan Kamanga, Wisdom Ndolvu - Robert Ng’ambi, Hellings Mwakasungura, Joseph Kamwendo, Jacob Ngwira, Dave Banda - Chiukepo Msowoya, Victor Nyirenda, Jimmy Zakazaka, Russel Mwafulirwa, Peter Wadabwa, Esau Kanyenda.
As predicted, Burkina Faso are ahead of Malawi for a reason. The Flames may have all the bravery in the world but that couldn't make up for their extremely limited talent. Not to take anything away from them, but Burkina-Faso is shaping up to be one of the very good mid-level African squads with a very healthy dose of European based players and an efficient coach.
If they want it badly enough, the Stallions could maul the Flames and they haven't shown any sign of giving up, so Kinna Phiris men will have to be more than motivated to get an away win that could end a 25-year drought.
Burkina-Faso 2-0 Malawi
Massaër Ndiaye, Goal.com