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Posts Tagged ‘Malawi’

CAF World Cup Qualification Group F: Nigeria in control as Kenya drop out

Nigeria took control of African World Cup 2014 qualifying Group F yesterday with a hard fought 1-0 away win over Kenya at the Moi International Sports Centre in Nairobi. The game was deadlocked at 0-0 for over eighty minutes until CSKA Moscow striker Ahmed Musa finally found a way past Duncan Ochieng in the Kenya goal. The win puts Nigeria top of the group on eight points from four games with two games remaining whilst Kenya stay rooted to the bottom with only two points and can no longer reach the next round because either Nigeria or Malawi is certain to exceed their maximum possible total of eight points.

In the other match in the group, Malawi drew 0-0 with Namibia at the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre. It’s a result which does neither team many favours but it does at least keep them both in contention ahead of the final rounds of matches. The penultimate fixtures take place next Wednesday (12-06-2013) when Malawi take on Kenya in Blantyre and Namibia host Nigeria in Windhoek. The sixth and final fixtures are in September when Malawi visit Nigeria and Kenya receive Namibia.

The Group F table is now as follows:

Group F P W D L F A P
Nigeria 4 2 2 0 4 2 8
Malawi 4 1 3 0 2 1 6
Namibia 4 1 1 2 1 2 4
Kenya 4 0 2 2 1 3 2

African Cup of Nations 2010: Mali 3-1 Malawi

Kick-off: Monday January 18, 16.00 GMT

Location: Estadio Cimandela, Cabinda

Mali 3: Kanoute (1), Keita (3), Bagayoko (85)
Malawi 1: Mwafulirwa (58)

TEAMS

Mali: Sidibe, Berthe, A. Maiga (Sow 50), Diamoutene, Tamboura, El Hadj Traore (Diallo 60), Fane, Mohamed Sissoko, Keita, Kanoute (M. Maiga 81), Bagayoko.

Malawi: Sanudi, Mponda, Kafoteka (Chiukepo 52), Sangala, Chavula, Mwakasungula, Wadabwa (Nyondo 48), Kamwendo, Banda, Kanyenda (Ngambi 71), Mwafulirwa

Mali secured a convincing but ultimately meaningless victory against Malawi in their final Group A match at the African Cup of Nations. The win puts them level with Algeria on four points in second place in the group and with a better goal difference than the Algerians but Mali exit the competition due to their inferior head-to-head record (a 0-1 defeat on matchday 2).

The  game got off to an exciting start, with Freddy Kanoute scoring after only 37 seconds. The Sevilla striker met a poor clearance but Malawi ‘keeper Sanudi and stroked the ball first time into the unguarded net from 30 yards out. Two minutes later, Mali doubled their advantage with a thunderous free-kick from Barcelona’s Seydou Keita and Malawi looked dead and buried.

However, with the other game in the group heading towards the draw that would eliminate Mali, Malawi were perhaps still the better placed of the two teams to qualify for the next round. At least their future was still in their own hands – all they needed to do was score two goals and they would progress instead of Algeria. One of those goals arrived early in the second half when Russell Mwafulirwa struck home following a goalmouth scramble. He had a great chance to level the scores  shortly after but his downwards header bounced up and over the bar when presented with an open goal.

Mamadou Bagayoko headed Mali’s third goal five minutes from full time to wrap up the victory, and the margin could have been even greater had the referee awarded them a blatant penalty for a foul on Keita, but in the end their efforts were all in vain. Another goal in either of their first two games would have been sufficient, but this one was meaningless.

2010 African Cup of Nations: Mali – Malawi Preview

Kick-off: Monday January 18, 16.00 GMT

Location: Estadio Cimandela, Cabinda

It’s crunch time for Mali and Malawi as they attempt to force their way into the reckoning for the quarter finals at the 2010 African Cup of Nations.  A win would be enough for little-fancied Malawi, but in Mali’s case it could come down to goal difference should they take the three points this afternoon.

It’s been a 2010 African Cup of Nations of contrasting fortunes for these two sides, both of whom have impressed and frustrated at time during this tournament.  However, the general impression is that whilst Mali have been a let-down, Malawi have over-achieved at the tournament, and have done well to still have their fate in their own hands

Which Mali will turn up?

So far, Mali have only played for around 12 minutes of this tournament, those being the final mad-moments of the opening clash against Angola when they overhauled a four-goal deficit to snatch an unlikely draw.  Whilst they were OK prior to their revival against Angola, they weren’t outstanding, and the second performance against Algeria was a huge disappointment as they registered one meagre shot in anger at their opponent’s goal for the entire match.

Team selection policy as left fans and pundits alike bemused suggesting that there may be more going on behind the scenes in the Malawian camp than meets the eye.  Barcelona’s midfielder Seyou Keita was left out of the starting XI in the opening match against Angola but was then brought on during the first half to redeem his side.

For the second match against Algeria main-forward Fredi Kanoute was left on the bench, despite scoring in the 4-4 draw against Angola, in favour of the wholly ineffective Teema N’Diaye who was a virtual bystander for the entire 60 minutes or so he spent on the pitch.  He was replaced by Kanoute, who also failed to make much of an impression, but then with service lacking so badly, his lack of goal threat can’t be put down entirely to the Sevilla striker.

Mali have often flattered to deceive and as suggested in the Team Guide posted by this website, they suffer from the common problem at international level that many countries struggle with.  The performances on the pitch don’t match the obvious talent available to the manager, and such has been the case at the 2010 African Cup of Nations, or be it, that Stephen Keshi, the Mali manager, clearly hasn’t always selected his strongest starting XI.

Surprise contenders

Whilst Mali have struggled with form on the pitch, the same can’t be said if Malawi, who have pleasantly surprised at the tournament so far.  Their opening day win against Algeria has left them well placed in the group, and with their fate at the competition still in their own hands.

The one concern for fans of The Flames is that they may have peaked too early.  Their performance against Algeria was far superior to the second one they turned in against hosts Angola, where after packing midfield they eventually crumbled in the second half to lose 2-0.  They did however create a couple of decent chances and had they been able to take them, with the score still at 0-0, the match could have evolved into a different affair.

The most important aspect of this game for Malawi may be in their own approach; the management team need to convince their team they deserve to be in this position and that they can trouble Mali, who on paper look stronger.  This will involve ensuring that Malawi don’t pay Mali too much respect, and get at their opponents, whose confidence will obviously be low after their disappointing opening to the 2010 African Cup of Nations.

Requirement to Progress

Mali

Even a victory against Malawi may not be enough to save Mali at the tournament.  Stephen Keshi’s men need to beat Malawi and hope that Angola can do them a favour by beating Algeria in the other game that kicks off at the same time.  That scenario would take Angola through on 7 points, leaving Mali in second place on four. If Algeria win the other game then a Mali win would put them in joint second place level on four points with Angola and requiring a four goal swing in goal difference to qualify. The nightmare result for Mali would be a draw in the Angola-Algeria game, which puts them out regardless of their own result. In that situation, were Mali to win against Malawi, they would go level with Algeria in second place on four points but exit on their head to head reuslt against the Algerians – a 0-1 defeat.

Malawi

The equation for Malawi is simple; win and they are through.  They can go through with a draw against Mali, if Angola win or draw against Algeria or if Algeria fail to win by more than three clear goals.  However, if Malawi lose to Mali then they will finish behind both Mali and Angola regardless out the outcome of the other match.

Team Form

Mali

14/01/10 – Algeria (n) 0-1 (2010 African Cup of Nations, Group A)

10/01/10 – Angola (a) 4-4 (2010 African Cup of Nations, Group A)

04/01/10 – Egypt (a) 1-0 (International Friendly)

02/01/10 – Qatar (a) 0-0 (International Friendly Tournament)

30/12/09 – Iran (n) 1-2 (International Friendly Tournament)

Malawi

14/01/10 – Angola (a) 2-0 (2010 African Cup of Nations, Group A)

11/01/10 – Algeria (n) 3-0 (2010 African Cup of Nations, Group A)

05/01/10 – Ghana (a) 0-0 (International Friendly)

29/12/09 – Egypt (a) 1-1 (International Friendly)

19/12/09 – Mozambique (a) 0-1 (International Friendly)

Team News

Mali

Mali’s task is made yet more complicated by several suspensions they have accrued over the course of the 2010 African Cup of Nations.  The biggest blow will be the loss of Mahamadou Diarra, the Real Madrid midfielder who has been booked in both the games so far, so sits out this game.  If Keshi is feeling brave from the outset he may opt for the more attacking Lassana Fane, but the more conservative choice would be Abdou Traore.

Also missing due to suspensions will be Bakary Soumare, his most likely replacement will be Bari’s Souleymane Diamoutene.

With six changes against Algeria from the team that started Angola, it’s more less futile trying to second-guess Keshi with other potential changes, who has been unpredictable with his teams.

Malawi

For their second game Malawi had to do without Russel Mwafulirwa, who scored the opener against Algeria, and generally looked lively in attack.  They will be hoping that the IFK Norrkoping striker is ready to face Mali in their final match.  If not his replacement should be Victor Nyirenda, who took his place against Angola. 

Players to Watch

Mali

Assuming he starts, which is by no-means a given, Seydou Keita will be an important player for Mali.  He will be needed to help fill the gap left by the suspended Diarra, and also assist driving hs side forward against Malawi.

Malawi

Russian-based forward Essau Kanyenda struggled to get into the game against Angola but when given the service still looked a threat on sporadic occasions in the first-half.  If Malawi can get the service through to him he could well be a threat against a Malian defence that has been chopped and changed about repeatedly during the tournament thus far.

Prediction

Under usual circumstances, a Mali victory would be the most likely outcome.  However, taking into account the tournament for the two respective teams so far, a Malian win looks far less certain.  Both sides have the ability to cause the other a problem in attack so an exciting game could be in prospect, in which neither can force the win.

Mali 2-2 Malawi

African Cup of Nations 2010: Malawi 3-0 Algeria – Malawi stun Algeria to sit on top of Group A

Kick-off: Monday January 11, 13.45 GMT

Location: Estadio 11 de Novembro, Luanda, Angola

Malawi 3 :Russel (16), Kofoteka (36), Banda (49)

Algeria 0

TEAMS

Malawi: Sanudi – Kofateka, Mponda, Chavula – Sangala, Hellings, Banda, Wadabwa, Kamwendi, Russel, Kanyenda

Algeria: Chaouchi – Belhadj, Bougherra, Halliche, Zaoui – Mansouri, Ziani, Matmour, Saifi – Yebda, Ghezzal

The second game of Group A at the 2010 African Cup of Nations kicked off in an almost empty stadium, in stark contrast to the buoyant atmosphere created by the home fans the night before when Angola took on Mali.  It was a pity only a handful of supporters took the chance to watch this game, as they witnessed one of the greatest shocks in African Cup of Nations history when the rank outsiders Malawi stunned Algeria to put themselves top of the group.

With World Cup participants Algeria heavily fancied to take a comfortable win, the Fennecs started in confident fashion stroking the ball around.  An early chance fell the way of Siena striker Abelkader Ghezzal from a tight angle, which was beaten away by Malawian goalkeeper Sawdick Sanudi.  It was to be the only early chance that Algeria would create.

Malawi showed the North Africans they weren’t going to be brushed aside despite their opponents being overwhelming favourites by creating an excellent chance of their own just before the 10 minute mark.  A deep cross was well attacked by Russel, but under pressure from Glasgow Rangers centre-back Madjid Bougherra diverted his header just a fraction wide of the far post.

Malawian mettle

Algeria failed to heed the warning of the early chance when calamitous defending gifted Malawi the lead just after the quarter of an hour mark.  A long ball helped forward was chased on by Essau Kanyenda, forcing Algerian goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi into a wild clearance against Bougherra.  The ball fell kindly for Russel, who made no mistake to tuck the ball home from close range to make it 1-0.

The Malawian defence demonstrated some fragility, when on 24 minutes Algeria threatened to pull back to level terms.  Karim Ziani, the midfield schemer, lifted an inviting through ball over the top for Rafik Saifi to race onto with one Malawian defender on the far side playing the entire Algerian attack onside.  However, his goalkeeper Sanudi bailed the dozing defender out by racing out to close down the space and force Saifi into rushing an attempted lob over the bar.

The Flames, as Malawi are known, made Algeria pay dearly, not only for that miss but their generally lacklustre approach to the first third of the game, when they doubled their advantage on 36 minutes to make it 2-0.  A cross from the Malawian left by Moses Chavula was forcefully headed in by centre-back Elvis Kafoteka giving Chaouchi no chance in the Algerian goal.

No Algerian improvement in the second half

Algeria started the second half with their coach’s words ringing in their ears regarding badly needed improvements to avoid a significant upset.  However, Malawi stunned Algeria by further extending their lead with the first major action of the second half.  Once again amateurish Algerian defending lay at the root cause of the Malawian success.  Algeria failed to clear their lines from an initial shot from Russel, but neither defender nor goalkeeper could get rid of the ball and it eventually fell to Davi Banda of Red Lions to gleefully steer the ball into the Algerian goal for 3-0.

It took until nearly the hour mark for Algeria to make any major inroad on the Malawian defence.  Another tempting through ball from Ziani set Saifi away, who until that moment had spurned his side’s best chance.  This time a toe-poked effort after a good spin away from the Malawian defence created space on 57 minutes was relatively easily held from Sanudi.

Just on the hour mark the Algerian once again created another half-chance when a ball in from deep by the largely anonymous Karim Matmour was nodded wide by Saifi, who until that point had been the only Algerian player to show any sort of form in the game.  The two quick-fire chances for Algeria were indicative that the side heading to the World Cup were finally beginning to get their game in order.  Malawi were further hampered by the loss of arguably their best player Russel, who had opened the scoring and created several other excellent chances, limped off with injury.

Malawi had another significant let-off when recent arrival Abelmalek Ziaya was found in considerable space in the penalty area with a ball from the right flank.  The Al-Ittihad forward making his first ever appearance for the senior side squandered the chance with a weak header wide of the target.

The replacement for Russel, Chiukepo Msowoya nearly continued where his striking colleague had left off when he nearly made it 4-0.  A speculative long-range effort from Peter Wadabwa ricocheted away from the body off the increasingly error prone and panic stricken Algerian goalkeeper Chaouchi into the path of Msowoya.  However, the Rwandan based forward found only the side netting on 73 minutes.

The final agony

Uncertain goalkeeping in the Malawian keeper was also nearly punished when a well delivered cross tempted Swadick out of his goal rashly for seemingly the umpteenth time.  With the keeper caught out, Ziaya momentarily flustered failed to connect for what would have been a simple header.  It was certainly indicative of the good luck Malawi enjoyed on several occasions, when they weren’t punished for poor defending where Algeria were.

That missed chance seemed to crush the Algerian spirit, who couldn’t muster the same sort of come-back Mali managed late on barely 24 hours earlier in the same stadium.  It would have been something remarkable to see another turnaround, but in truth the gap between Malawi and Algeria in this match was much wider than that between Angola and Mali last night.

It was Malawi’s first ever win at the tournament, in just their second ever tournament, and now leaves them in a position to potentially grab a surprise place in the quarter-finals in their remaining two games.  If they can recreate this form again, there is no reason to assume they won’t.  Meanwhile Algeria have a lot of work on to sort out their future at the 2010 African Cup of Nations.  They now play their supposedly two toughest games needing at least one win, and maybe two, and to hope that other results also go their way.  With the crazy ending of last night, and this shock result, Group A certainly isn’t working out the way most had predicted.

African Cup of Nations 2010: Malawi-Algeria Preview

Kick-off: Monday January 11, 13.45 GMT

Location: Estadio 11 de Novembro, Luanda, Angola

The second fixture in Group A at 2010 African Cup of Nations gets underway as Algeria seek to prove they are worth of a place at the World Cup later in the year against minnows Malawi.

Algeria were one of the surprise qualifiers, not only from Africa, but across the World, for one of the 31 places on offer at next summer’s World Cup.  Their bitter battle with their North African rivals Egypt across three games made headlines both off and on the pitch.  They will now be looking to use the 2010 African Cup of Nations as a chance to show that they can compete at the very highest level.

One of the main accusations levelled at Algeria was that they simply don’t possess enough firepower to match the very best in Africa.  Statistically that simply isn’t correct, as the nine goals they notched in the second group stage of World Cup qualifying, which also doubled up as African Cup of Nations qualifying, more than stands comparison with the like of Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon, all of whom also notched the identical amount in their games.

A lack of firepower

What may be a more accurate statement is that Algeria can’t call up the sort of world-class strikers that the like of Nigeria, the Ivory Coast or Cameroon can rely on.  Indeed the four forwards named by coach Rabah Saadane can muster barely twenty goals between them, and one of them is yet to even earn a full senior cap.  That makes the omission of the like of Hull City’s Kamel Ghilas somewhat surprising given that he has a reasonable record at club level, his rather barren 6 months on Humberside apart.

Whilst Algeria can’t call on many household names for the attack, their midfield is packed full of attacking talent, and it may be from this slightly deeper area that they can prosper.  The two Karims at Bundesliga sides Ziani (Wolfsburg) and Matmour (Borussia Moechengladbach) are two world-class individuals more than capable of finding the back of the net in their own right or setting up a chance for someone else.

Low expectations

The question of expectations on both sides is certainly as interesting one.  From Algeria’s perspective many of their ambitious fans will be expecting their side to perform strongly at the tournament.  Therefore any failure, not only in this game, but a failure to reach at least the quarter finals will be seen as a huge disappointment.

Brought up on a diet of success in the 1980’s, the Fennecs, as Algeria are known, failed to meet expectations since their two World Cup appearances in 1982 and 1986.  Following the qualification for 2010, the broad anticipation in Algiers and further beyond, is that this is the start of a similar period of success for the country.  To add further pressure to Algeria, the head of the FA has stated that he believes the team are capable of reaching the finals in Angola, which given the competition is perhaps somewhat ambitious.

Malawi certainly won’t be suffering from that.  This will only be their second ever appearance at the main tournament after scrambling through in 1984.  They performed well enough on that occasion, but the gap in African football between the strongest and weakest is now a yawning chasm, and Malawi can be considered one of the few minnows at this tournament.

Punching above their weight

Recent performances have been distinctly mixed for Malawi with the general trend being that they tend to perform better against the stronger sides, but fail to meet expectations against sides they may be considered able to compete against.

An example of this unusual pattern is that in the past 6 months they have held the Ivory Coast (1-1), Egypt (1-1) and Ghana (0-0) to draws, but have slumped to defeats to Mozambique (1-0) and Burkina Faso (1-0).  Their defeat to Mozambique in the COSAFA Cup 2009 when invited to Zimbabwe to participate at the tournament was most disappointing as it they had no further opportunity to measure themselves against peers.

It could be argued that Algeria surpassed expectations in reaching the World Cup.  However, current form is impossible to assess, as they haven’t organised one single official friendly.  This is either an indication of supreme confidence, or utter disorganisation.  The effect of the lack of football prior to the kick-off against Malawi will only become evident during the match, but a disjointed performance is almost certainly inevitable.

Form Guide

Malawi

05/01/10 – Ghana (a) 0-0 (International Friendly)

29/12/09 – Egypt (a) 1-1 (International Friendly)

19/12/09 – Mozambique (a) 0-1 (International Friendly)

14/11/09 – Burkina Faso (a) 1-0 (2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifier)

25/10/09 – Mozambique (n) 0-1 (COSAFA Cup Quarter-Final)

Algeria

18/11/09 – Egypt (n) 1-0 (2010 FIFA World Cup Play-off)

14/11/09 – Egypt (a) 2-0 (2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifier)

11/10/09 – Rwanda (h) 3-1 (2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifier)

06/09/09 – Zambia (h) 1-0 (2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifier)

12/08/09 – Uruguay (h) 1-0 (International Friendly)

Team News

Malawi

Team news for Malawi remains limited, but the main players for the team appear to be fit and ready to defend the honour of the Flames for the 2010 African Cup of Nations.  Josephy Kamwendo has already stated his desire to move to Europe on the strength of his performances at the tournament, whilst many of the other squad members plying their trade in South Africa, will also have their eye on a lucrative deal with a European side.

Algeria

The main concern for the Fennecs focuses on the goal hero from that crazy night in Sudan some three months ago: Antar Yahia.  The Bochum-based defender grabbed the goal to take Algeria through, but that performance came at a cost as he aggravated an old injury to jeopardise his participation in Angola.  He has however, promised to be ready to take his place against Malawi.  His replacement could be Samir Zaoui from ASO Chlef, if Yahia can’t make good on his promise.

Players to Watch

Malawi

Defender and captain of the team Peter Maponda will have a crucial role to play against Algeria.  Whilst many expect Malawi to mount a rearguard action and for the entire defence to be pretty busy, Maponda’s most important role will be to ensure that the Flames don’t sit too close to their own goal.  If they hold a deep line against Algeria they can expect to be torn to shreds, as this will yield far too much space to the like of the deep lying creative midfielders such as Karim Ziani.  If Maponda can encourage his defence to push up and restrict space, Algeria could find it tough going against Malawi.

Algeria

The counter to Malawi’s key player as already identified will be Karim Ziani. The former Marseille midfielder may not have been able to fulfil expectations during his time on the French south coast following an €11 million switch from Sochaux, but is a creative and gifted playmaker.  If he can find space he will undoubtedly exploit it, and if he can prevent Malawi from closing him down, then it could be a long afternoon for the Malawian defence.

Prediction

With neither side particularly in form in front of goal, don’t expect this one to be a goal-fest.  Furthermore Algeria’s lack of football will probably render their initial performance somewhat disjointed  Malawi’s prime concern will be keeping a clean-sheet and frustrating Algeria for as long as possible, and the onus will undoubtedly be on the North Africans to break them down.  That may take some time, but they should have enough to take the win.

Malawi 0-1 Algeria

African Cup of Nations 2010: Malawi Team Guide

With the worst record of any of the 15-qualified teams represented at the 2010 African Cup of Nations, it will be an uphill battle for Malawi to make any impression at the tournament.

Malawi will arrive in Angola with the worst record from qualifying mustering just four points from their six matches. Nevertheless over the past 18 months The Flames, have posted one or two noteworthy results, including a victory over Egypt and holding the Ivory Coast to a draw, so they shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.

Of all the teams playing at the 2010 African Cup of Nations, none have as little international experience as Malawi, so simply participating at such a level will be of enormous benefit as they attempt to improve. Many suggest that the recent success that Malawi have enjoyed stems from Walter Nyamilandu, the President of the Malawian FA. The administrator set up a country-wide cup competition, has made the league a less chaotic affair and is now attempting to oversee a return to the heyday of Malawian football from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Regional dominance the aim

Malawi’s football dominance of East Africa was confirmed as the 1970’s ended with consecutive victories in the CECAFA Cup in 1978 and 1979, an annual competition for sides from the area. Although they couldn’t follow-up that success, they claimed fourth in 1983 and then in 1984 finished as runners-up and also qualified for their only previous attempt on the African Cup of Nations.

However, their sole qualification prior to 2010 for Africa’s premier tournament had as much to do with good fortune as good form. After beating Zimbabwe in the Preliminary Round of qualification, they were given a walk-over in the First Round against Zaire, before being paired with Madagascar in the Final Qualifying Round, a match they narrowly won 2-1 on aggregate.

Despite being minnows at the 1984 event, much like they will be in 2010, they certainly didn’t disgrace themselves, claiming a point off Nigeria and only going down a 1-0 defeat to Ghana. Since that initial promising performance Malawi have failed to get close to qualifying again and recent attempts hardly boded well.

The 2006 qualifying campaign resulted in bottom place in a six-team group with just one home win, and a 7-0 hammering by eventual World Cup participants Tunisia. The 2008 qualifying campaign was scarcely an improvement under English coach Stephen Constantine, who had achieved remarkable things with India and Nepal before his stint with Malawi. After significantly reducing the average age of the squad, Constantine couldn’t coax the required results out of his young charges and just one win and three defeats saw Malawi trail both Zimbabwe and Morocco in the final standings.

Improvement

Constantine remains a controversial figure within Malawian football, with many feeling his impact was negative, but it could be argued that the qualification for this event had its foundations in his work, as local coach Kinnah Phiri, a member of the 1984 team, took up the reigns.

All of Malawi’s best results have come at home during the qualification campaign, including those creditable performances against the like of Egypt and Ivory Coast, both of whom named relatively strong squads, but by no-means their full starting XI. Malawi’s progress through the first group stage was thanks to their victory over Egypt at home, something that their rivals the Congo couldn’t match, which saw Malawi pip them to second, and do enough in the rankings to squeeze through into the next stage.

There they found the going much tougher, and a 2-1 win in September 2009 over Guinea combined with the 1-1 draw against the Ivory Coast was just enough to ease them into third place, despite a last match-day defeat to Burkina Faso.

Recreating the spirit of ‘84

Unlike many of the teams at the 2010 African Cup of Nations, there will not be a significant European contingent, with two of Malawi’s European based players not even named in the preliminary 42-man squad. Drawing on his memory of the 1984 tournament Kinnah Phiri has already stated that he’s looking for team-spirit within the squad, and left out two South-African based players after allegations of indiscipline, although both have now returned to the fold.

It’s a wise policy for Malawi to pursue; in terms of quality they lag behind the other participants, so will need to maximise every other area, such as team harmony and spirit if they are to make any positive impact on the tournament. The initial news of qualification was greeted with hysteria in Malawi, but a much needed reality check came just a month later. After being invited to play in the COSAFA Cup, the regional tournament for Southern Africa, they were immediately bundled out of by Mozambique at the quarter-final stage after just one match. So there remains much work to do both on the pitch and behind the scene for Malawi.

Squad

Goalkeepers – Swadick Sanudi (Dynamos), Simplex Nthala (MTL Wanderers), Charles Swini (ESCOM United)

Defenders – Moses Chavula (Nathi Lions), James Sangala (1 Agosto), Allan Kamaga (Dynamos), Peter Maponda (Black Leopards), Elvis Kafoteka (ESCOM United), Maupo Msowoya (ESCOM United), Harry Nyirenda (MTL Wanderers)

Midfielders – Peter Wadabwa (Thanda Royal Zulu), Jacob Ngwira (Caraca Kicks), Joseph Kamwendo (Orlando Pirates), Hellings Mwakasungula (Silver Strikers), Robert N’gambi (Black Leopards), Davi Banda (Red Lions), Peter Mgangira (Silver Strikers)

Attackers – Chiukepo Msowya (AFR FC), Russel Mwafulirwa (IFK Norrkoping), Essau Kanyenda (FC KAMAZ), Victor Nyirenda (ESCOM United), Jimmy Zakazaka (Bay United), Atusaye Nyondo (Caraca Kicks)

Players to Watch

With one of the less well-known squads on the continent, Malawi will certainly have the advantage of surprise on their side. One of only two European based players is forward Essau Kanyenda currently plying his trade in the Russian Second Division with FC KAMAZ. With three goals in qualifying, including a hat-trick against Djibouti, Malawi will be relying heavily on the 27-year-old to continue finding the back of the net at the 2010 African Cup of Nations.

Defender and captain of the team Peter Maponda will also have a crucial role to play for his side in Angola. One of the most experienced players in the squad, Maponda has been playing in South Africa for several seasons, both in the Premier Division and most recently in the First Division with Black Leopards. After suffering relegation at the end of last season, the Leopards are currently second and well placed for an immediate return to the top-flight. With the second lowest goals total against in the division, Maponda has been a vital cog for his club side’s defence, and will be potentially called into plenty of action during the tournament for Malawi.

Fixtures

11th Jan – Algeria

14th Jan – Angola

18th Jan – Mali

Prediction

As minnows not only in Group A but in the entire tournament, it will be a steep learning curve for this Malawian team. Therefore it’s quite conceivable that their three matches could quite possibly end in three defeats. Nevertheless taking lessons away from playing the like of Algeria, and Mali from the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations will be the most important aspect of this competition. If the future development of the game ensures that qualification for this tournament becomes less sporadic and improves performances in the regional tournaments, then their time in Angola will be considered a success regardless of the outcome.

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