Thursday, January 14. Kick-off: 20:30 CET
November 11 Stadium, Luanda, Angola.
November 11 Stadium, Luanda, Angola.
Malawi are already dreaming of a place in the quarter-finals of the African Nations Cup as they meet tournament hosts Angola.
A 3-0 victory over World Cup-bound Algeria in their opening match sent the Flames to the top of Group A, with a two-point cushion over their nearest challengers.
For the soft spoken Kinnah Phiri, his side’s victory over Algeria serves as a morale boost going in to the crucial game against the hosts, who have had a disappointing start. Another three points could see them become the first team to progress to the last eight.
Angola have a point to prove to their supporters after throwing away a four-goal lead in their group opener against Mali. Just when it seemed easier to win than to lose, Angola fell apart, sharing the spoils with a Mali side who came back to make it 4-4 in the final 12 minutes.
Two goals in stoppage time snatched an unexpected draw for the Malians, and the Black Antelopes must cut out their defensive errors against Malawi if they are to keep alive their hopes of reaching the knockout stage.
In contrast, Malawi go into this match in confident mood, knowing that they won convincingly against opponents they were expected to be stretched against. The three points in this match would bring them closer to progressing whilst avoiding the top team from another group, so long as Mali do not mount another last minute comeback in the final match of the group.
Angolan coach Manuel Jose is sweating over the fitness of central defender Dede (muscle injury) and the midfield maestro Gilberto (knee). Otherwise, after that disappointing game against Mali, the coach will certainly ring the changes. Double goalscorer in the last game, Flavio, is set to lead from the front again and hope the backdoor will be tightly shut this time.
It is clear that Angola need to win Thursday’s showdown against Malawi because a loss will almost certainly result in their elimination, unless they win their final match against Algeria and pray that Mali also lose against Malawi.
Stocky striker Flavio scored a brace against Mali and will look to continue where he left off in the last game. Home fans always look up to the experienced striker and he knows what great expectations the country has of him.
After a brilliant display against Algeria, Malawi are the most motivated of the two sides. Malawi coach Kinnah Phiri lost his temper when the Malawian Flames were denied entry into a training ground owned by local police side and used by both Angola and Malawi in preparation for the tournament.
The Malawians were reportedly prevented from disembarking from their team bus by the police because the Angolan national team were apparently still training. But after the Angolans had departed in their bus, Malawi were still stopped from getting off their bus and Phiri blew his fuse.
The coach is expected to keep the same team that gave Algeria a hiding as they aim to progress to the next round.
Joseph Kamwendo is an important players for the Flames. Popularly known as 'Shakira' because of his silky twists and turns reminiscent of the Spanish popstar, Kamwendo had a disappointing game against Algeria by his standards. This game against the hosts is the right platform to show what a marvel he is to watch, as he can do so much with the ball.
Angola owe it to the home fans after a disappointing showdown against Mali and they certainly will have a go at Malawi from the first whistle. Whilst Malawi are the most pumped up of the two sides, this will be a tight encounter.
Angola 1-1 Malawi
Clyde Tlou, Goal.com