With the battle for 2014 Brazil World Cup qualification in Group F going to the wire, coach Eddington Ng’onamo believes the pressure is on the Africa champions, Nigeria.
The Super Eagles failed to wrap the qualification in the group after they were held to a one-all draw by Namibia.
Though they still lead the group with nine points, they need a draw against Malawi in the last game in the last qualifier in September.Nigeria coach Steven Keshi is now under attack for failing to utilise Malawi’s mistake.
Many thought Nigeria would beat Namibia to qualify for the last round after Malawi gave away 2-1 lead in injury time through an own goal.
Deon Hotto Kavendji had put the ‘Brave Warriors’ ahead on 77 minutes as they threatened to avenge a 1-0 loss in Calabar last June. But the Super Eagles had to settle for a point when Godfrey Oboabona equalised seven minutes from time.
Coach Eddington Ng’onamo said Malawi is capable of beating the Nigerians at their own backyard.
“Nigeria is vulnerable at home,” the coach said. “They have not been impressive in the qualification.
“You can see that they have been struggling. Kenya even managed to draw against them in a game they were leading. In all their games, they have been coming from behind to win. Most of their goals are coming in the dying minutes.
“Right now the pressure is on them. They are African champions and the expectation is high. Playing at home will even make them play under intense pressure.
“We should utilise that and I am sure we can beat them and make it to the last round,” he said.
He, however, said Malawi need thorough preparations for this dream to come true.
“I will propose that we have intensive preparations before the game. Luckily we are going to Cosafa next month. That will help keep our players in shape.
“I also want to take some professional players in to Cosafa since they will be off season. Then after Cosafa I will propose that we play at least two strength-testing matches against some top sides in August.
“We could play one team from North Africa like Morocco, Egypt or Tunisia and the other one from West Africa like Ivory Coast, Cameroon. This will make us ready for Nigeria.”
If Malawi can pull a surprise win against Nigeria they will proceed to the last qualifying round in which the ten group winners will battle it out in a two-legged knockout phase with the five victorious teams booking a ticket to Brazil finals.
Nigeria now travel to Brazil for the Fifa Confederations Cup Brazil where they will face Tahiti on Monday in group B followed by Uruguay and world champions Spain.
They will likely come back from Brazil stronger and well focused to shrug off the Flames at their home turf. – By Joy Ndovi