Malawi stars set to appease for 2018 World Cup qualification disappointment

Ahead of t Saturday’s preliminary round qualifier of the 2022 Qatar World Cup against Botswana in Gaborone, midfielder Chimango Kaira and stand-in captain John Banda have pledged to appease for the disappointment of failing to go past the same stage during the 2018 Russia World Cup qualifier against Tanzania.

Coach Mwase drilling the team
Gaba leading the drills
The remnants, Gerald Phiri, John Banda, Stanley Sanudi, Chimango Kaira and Gabadinho Mhango
The Flames full squad

Chimango and John Banda — together with striker Gabadinho Mhango, defender Stanley Sanudi and midfielder Gerald Phiri Jnr — are the remnants of the then coach Ernest Mtawali’s squad that lost 1-2 on aggregate against the Taifa Stars in which they first lost 0-2 away and won 1-0 at home.

John Banda, who scored the lone goal in the home match, said the scenario is the same as they also start the campaign away and they are geared to come up with a good result.

“There are just five of us left from the previous squad. We learnt a lot from the disappointment and we are inspiring the others to follow the coach’s good game plan.

“We need to reach the group stages so that we build a stronger side as we continue being together,” said the stand-in captain, who thanked coach Meke Mwase’s confidence in entrusting him to lead the team tomorrow.

He said the defeat against Tanzania was so painful as it reduced Flames’ competitive football participation for close to two years and they do not want to experience that again.

“The feeling was bad to lose to Tanzania, then watch our friends play group stage matches for  two years. We learnt our lessons and we can’t afford to repeat that mistake.

“Playing in World Cup matches is a big feeling for every player. This is the highest level of football and we would like to play more games and not just these two preliminary ties. We want to play with the big teams and big-name players in the group stages.

“Winning against Botswana will give us a lot because we are building a team and the groups stage will provide a platform for us to continue building as the lads will gain more experience,” he said.

On his part, Chimango, who has travelled with the Flames for the first time after two and a half years absence, said the format of the 2022 World Cup makes it even  more exciting not to miss the group stages.

Unlike the 2018 format which had a preliminary round of 28 teams, then group stage of 40 teams and a last knockout round of 10 teams, the 2022 format has 26 teams in preliminary round to be followed by a group stage of 40 teams and another group stage of 20 teams in the last phase.

“We are talking of 14 matches of World Cup in total between now and 2021 if we make it to the last round. The format gives us small nations a platform for more matches with top guns and we can’t afford to sit back and just watch from home this time around,” he said.

The Flames arrived in Francistown on Wednesday night and had two training sessions at the match venue on Thursday morning and afternoon.

“We are pleased that all the 20 players are in good condition and are responding well to training,” said Mwase, who has a full house having been joined by all the six foreign-based players.

The foreign legions are South Africa-based striker Gabadinho Mhango of Orlando Pirates, Yamikani Chester (North Carolina FC, USA); John Banda (Ferroviaro de Nampula, Mozambique); Gerald Phiri (Baroka FC, South Africa); Richard Mbulu (Baroka FC, South Africa) and Robin Ngalande (Zira FK, Azerbaijan).

The return match of the all Confederation of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) duel is scheduled for Tuesday, September 10 at the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.

CAF’s 26 top-ranked teams have been excluded from this preliminary round and there are 28 teams for this first round with 14 higher ranked teams playing the first legs away to their lower ranked opponents.

The full pairings for Cosafa teams are as follows: Ethiopia vs Lesotho; Somalia vs Zimbabwe; Eritrea vs Namibia; Djibouti vs Eswatini; Gambia vs Angola; Mauritius vs Mozambique and Seychelles vs Rwanda.

The other fixtures are South Sudan vs Equatorial Guinea; Chad vs Sudan; Liberia vs Sierra Leone; Sao Tome & Principe vs Guinea-Bissau; Comoros vs Togo while surprise package at the 2019 Egypt Africa Cup of Nations Tanzania date Burundi in an East African derby.

The 14 winners will then join the 26 Nations to be divided into 10 groups of four teams each and at the end of the group stage, the 10 group winners will be paired, based on ranking, to compete in a two-legged play-off round.

During this group stage, the 5 higher ranked teams will play the first legs away. Five winners from the group’s will represent Africa at the FIFA World Cup to be hosted by Qatar in 2022.

Egypt, Nigeria, Tunisia, Senegal and Morocco represented the continent at the last event in Russia.

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2 years ago

Correction Mr reporter John Banda is now playing for Uniao Desportivo de Songo (UDS) he left Ferroviarro de Nampula.All the best Flames

2 years ago

I have nothing but praise and wish the boys all the goodluck

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