Malawi is determined to cast demons of a 2-0 deficit, a bumpy pitch and a curse of suspensions when facing Ghana in Saturday’s 2013 Nations Cup decisive qualifier.
Such is the wave of optimism ahead of this swim or sink second leg set for 15 000-seater Civo Stadium, the capital Lilongwe is slowly descending into a sea of red.
The Flames’ traditional home colour is red; hence the Football Association of Malawi has urged fans to slip into red attire.
Not that the optimism is founded on any solid ground but such is passion for football in Malawi most believe the ill-prepared Flames can spring a surprise two-goal margin win and drag the game into penalties.
Closure of suspect giant Blantyre’s Kamuzu Stadium, suspension of regular defenders James Sangala and Limbikani and usual chaotic preparations mean that the Flames head into this match banking solely on their impressive home record.
Malawi, has under coach Kinnah Phiri since 2008 only lost twice in 19 matches on all fronts.
Returning to the defence is Foster Namwela who missed the first leg in Accra where Malawi lost 2-0. Namwela is hopeful of progressing to the finals.
“Never say never in football. If Ghana scored two goals at home why can we also not score two goals at home?” the Mighty Wanderers skipper Namwela told Supersport.com.
Also back in the Flames is veteran striker Esau Kanyenda and Chiukepo Msowoya who hope to add fire power to a strike force whose members are yet to locate the target this year. Malawi has this year only scored through midfielders.
Well, Malawi defence has a tough task keeping at bay Ghana’s speedy attackers such as Asamoah Gyan and Andre Ayew, among others.
“We know the team we are facing…we won by two goals at home but I believe we should have scored more,” Ayew told SuperSport 9 on Thursday.
While any result save for a two-goal margin loss can see the Black Stars through to the finals, Malawi has to also score and not concede by such a margin.
Flames technical advisor Jack Chamangwana believes scoring two goals is possible “we just need an early first goal then the rest will follow.”
There is an ironic historic context to this game as Ghana, then known as Gold Coast, handed Malawi, then Nyasaland, its worst 12-0 defeat on October 15 1962 in Blantyre.
It is a result Ghana calls its best ever while Malawi brands it its worst. Now meeting 50 years later, the battle lines have been drawn. On paper call it mission impossible for the Flames.