Malawi and Zimbabwe will face off in their second Africa Cup of Nations Group B fixture at Bafoussam Omnisport Stadium on Friday.
Both teams lost their opening fixtures and they will strive to bounce back to winning ways and revive their hopes of making it to the knockout stage of the 33rd edition of the competition in Cameroon.
While the Flames went down 1-0 against Guinea courtesy of a first-half strike from Issiaga Sylla, the Warriors were left heartbroken after conceding a late penalty converted by Liverpool winger Sadio Mane in their 1-0 defeat to Senegal.
The Flames, who first qualified for Afcon in 1984, have failed to progress from the group stage in the tournament’s history having appeared three times while Zimbabwe have not made it past the same stage in each of their four appearances.
On the other hand, since beating Ghana 2-1 in the 2006 edition held in Egypt, Zimbabwe have gone for almost 16 years without winning a match in the tournament.
|Malawi vs Zimbabwe
|Friday, January 14
|18:00 SA Time - (16:00 GMT)
TV Channel, Live Score & How To Watch
|DStv.com/DStv Now App https://www.showmax.com/eng/welcome/za
|SuperSport TV's PSL channel 202/SuperSport TV's Variety 3 channel 208
Squads & Team News
The Flames had only 15 players available for their first game against Guinea on Monday after nine players and head of technical Mario Marinica tested positive for Covid-19.
The players who missed the opener are Orlando Pirates striker Gabadinho Mhango, Richard Mbulu, defenders Mark Fodya, Peter Cholopi, Lawrence Chaziya, Stanley Sanudi, midfielders Chikoti Chirwa, Charles Petro, and Robin Ngalande.
However, the team has received a boost with Petro and Fodya returning negative tests and they will be available for the must-win fixture. They have also beefed up their squad with five new call-ups - Brighton Munthali, Paul Ndlovu, Dan Chimbalanga, Gerald Phiri, and Stain Dave.
Malawi assistant coach Meck Mwase has admitted Zimbabwe are a very good side tactically but maintained they are ready to face them.
“We had a very good but unlucky performance against Guinea, we took note of our mistakes and playing Zimbabwe will be totally different,” Mwase, who will handle the side in the absence of Marinica said as quoted by CafOnline.
“We have some players back after missing the first game. Zimbabwe are a very good side tactically, but I have told my players we are in a must-win situation.”
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe are sweating over the availability of Knowledge Musona and Kundai Benyu. While Benyu picked an injury against Senegal, Musona is struggling with flu.
Zimbabwe coach Norman Mapeza has said the decision on whether the two players will be involved will be decided during their final preparations.
“We have two guys injured. Kundai has an ankle injury sustained against Senegal, and the captain [Musona] was struggling with flu-like symptoms,” Musona said as quoted by Zimbabwe FA social media pages.
“We will check everything in our final preparations this evening.”
However, Zimbabwe received a boost on Friday after defender Jordan Zemura, who missed the opener against the Lions of Teranga, finally arrived in camp from EFL Championship side Bournemouth and trained with the team.
Mapeza has, however, maintained a brave face heading into the fixture, insisting his players have forgotten about the 1-0 defeat suffered against Senegal and are focused to get a win.
“We have been working on recovery after the last-minute loss to Senegal, we have a very good side, and we know our game against Malawi is a must-win,” Mapeza told CafOnline.
“I spoke to the players who were very emotional, and I am happy they have decided to forget the Senegal game. I am not going to make changes to my squad but will just emphasise on consistency and using our chances effectively.”
Malawi’s two previous appearances at Afcon were in 1984 and 2010 where they finished bottom of their group on both occasions, winning only one of their six matches (D1 L4).
The Flames scored only four goals in six games during the qualifying campaign for the 2021 Afcon, the joint-lowest tally of the 24 teams at this year’s tournament alongside Comoros.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe have finished bottom of their group in each of their four previous participations and never kept a clean sheet in 12 games.
Malawi have failed to beat Zimbabwe in their last six matches with the Warriors having won three times and the other three ending in draws. The last time they faced off was in the group stage of the Cosafa Cup in 2021 when the match ended in a 2-2 draw.