Malawi’s Flames have been warned not to expect any favours when they meet Botswana in the 2012 African Nations Cup (AFCON) qualifier at the Lobatse Sports Complex next Sunday (kick off at 3pm).
While the Zebras have already qualified for the continental games, the Flames still stand a chance and getting maximum points here will be very vital.
Botswana leads Group K with 16 points from six games whilst Malawi is second with nine points from five games.
Since beating Chad away in N’Djamena in March and making history by becoming the first country to qualify for the games, there have been reports that the Zebras will not put more effort in the remaining games. Some people even suggested that the technical team should give some of the fringe players a chance to play.
After their Friday morning session, Zebras’ coach Stanley Tshosane said, “I’ll be a disappointed man if we fail to get maximum points against Malawi next weekend. I would have liked to give some of the guys (who have not featured frequently in the past qualifiers) a chance in the upcoming game but it is important that we field a strong squad. Malawi should not come here and expect any favours from us. I’ve read in the website that they’re taking this game seriously which is going to make it an interesting game.”
Ahead of their game against the Flames, Tshosane is a bit worried by their lack of the killer instinct in front of goal as evidenced in their midweek goalless draw against Swaziland in Mbabane.
Though the Zebras played the game without their foreign-based players, Tshosane believes that they could have at least won by two goals.
“I thought the problem of scoring was a thing of the past but there were signs in Swaziland. I don’t want to blame anyone but it’s something we need to work on. As we prepare for Malawi, we’re working on the physical aspect of our game,” he said.
On Friday morning, South Africa-based Modiri Marumo (Bay United), Dirang Moloi (Vasco da Gama), Boitumelo Mafoko (Cape Town Santos), Jerome Ramatlhakwana (Vasco da Gama) and Mogogi Gabonamong (Supersport United) were already in the country to prepare for the qualifier.
Midfield talisman Diphetogo Selolwane of Supersport United was expected to arrive on the day while Orlando Pirates’ Phenyo Mongala was only expected to join the camp today.
Mongala’s club was involved in Nedbank Cup final yesterday.
“I’ve asked the South African based players to take a rest and will only report for camp tomorrow (Saturday),” said Tshosane yesterday. ┬á
Meanwhile, Malawi are in Swaziland today for an international friendly before coming here and coach Kinnah Phiri is confident that the game would serve well to gauge his side preparedness for the Zebras’ tie.
Phiri named eight local-based players in his squad for next weekend’s game.┬á Six of them have not been regulars except for midfielders Davie Banda and Hellings Mwakasungula.
Addressing a press conference in Malawi on Thursday, Phiri said that he picked the eight locals who have shown determination in training. Mozambique-based goalkeeper Simplex Nthala and South Africa-based duo of Robert Ng’ambi (Black Leopards) and Chiukepo Msowoya (Orlando Pirates) are expected to join the Flames’ squad in Swaziland today after featuring in the Nedbank Cup final yesterday.
Defender James Sangala, who plies his trade in Angola, will only join the rest of his teammates in Gaborone this week. In the absence of Russia-based striker Essau Kanyenda and youngster Robert Ngalande of Atletico Madrid in Spain who have been ruled out by injuries, the Flames would put their hopes on Msowoya to score the decisive goals.
Since moving to Orlando Pirates in the just ended season, Msowoya has been found wanting and whether he can come to the party remains to be seen.
Another player who the Zebras have to keep a close eye on is midfielder Josephy Kamwendo of Vasco da Gama in South Africa.
Meanwhile, Botswana Football Association is expected to announce the admission fees and ticket outlets by tomorrow.