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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: Malawi 'must stand together' - Orlando Pirates' Mhango ahead of Morocco duel

7:20 PM IST 24/01/22
Frank Mhango, Malawi, January 2022
The Flames will be contesting in the knockout stage of the competition for the first time in their history

Orlando Pirates striker Gabadinho Mhango has called on his Malawi teammates to show team spirit ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations Round of 16 duel against Morocco on Tuesday.

Mhango has been a key figure for the Flames in Cameroon as he scored a brace against Zimbabwe in their second group game. The Bucs' forward insists Malawi must remain united as they are on the verge of making history in Cameroon.

"I think it’s a great feeling for everyone as a team and for the supporters as well in Malawi. Everyone is happy for us to be in the Round of 16," Mhango told iDiski Times.

"I think this is a time that I think we need to stand as a team, to be united, and the way the game is going now, we meet the big guns, with the big boys.

"So, now we just need to stand together to fight, and then, for me as well, I think we do it as a team together."

On his part, vice-captain John Banda described the game against Morocco as an encounter of their lives.

"The Morocco game is the biggest game of our lives and we are looking forward to it," Banda said.

"We respect Morocco but don’t fear them. We played them twice in the Afcon three years ago, and I played in both matches. They are a beatable side with a proper game plan."

Meanwhile, this will be the first meeting between Morocco and Malawi in Afcon, with the Atlas Lions having only lost one of their last 11 games when facing an opponent in the competition for the first time.

The Flames will contest their first game in the knockout stage of the continental competition, in what will be their 10th game in the competition overall. They have only won two of the previous nine (D2 L5), but are unbeaten in two games coming into this one (W1 D1).

The Cosafa nation had the lowest possession average of any team during the group stage of the ongoing Afcon edition (31.5%). Indeed, they have recorded a sequence of 10+ passes from open play only twice so far, which is also a competition-low figure.