Malawi badly need to gain some ground in the continental game against Madagascar after losing 1-nil in the 2018 Championship of African Nations (CHAN) preliminary first leg clash in Antananarivo last week.
Flames take on Berea Stars this afternoon at the newly built Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, in what is a pivotal match for the future of the game in this country.
Ever since its inception, the Flames have never qualified for CHAN finals, let alone the group stages of the continental competition for locally based players.
Ronny Van Geneugden’s boys endured a frustrating Saturday afternoon in Madagascar where the hosts produced a stunning performance to take a 1-nil advantage into the second leg.
Soon after arriving back into the country, the Belgian tactician made several changes to the squad by including veteran Be Forward Wanderers midfielder Joseph Kamwendo and two strikers namely Ishmael Thindwa and Binwel Katinji.
The 4-5-1 formation that was used in the first leg failed to yield results as Malawi opted to play too deep and in the process, inviting Madagascar into their territory.
Now, with a goal down, an attacking formation is likely to be used as Malawi will be looking for more than a goal in order to progress to the next round.
However, the more you attack, the more you become vulnerable in defence hence the boys will have to attack and defend with caution.
The Flames should prevent the visitors from finding the back of the net if they are to make it to the next round.
With Kamwendo available for selection, Van Geneugden is likely to go with a 4-4-2 formation, with a partnership of Thindwa and Katinji upfront.
Ernest Kakhobwe is expected to retain his position between the goal posts while Stainly Sanudi, Lucky Malata, John Lanjesi and Francis Mulimbika will cover in defence.
In midfield, Yamikani Chester, Dave Banda, Manase Chiyesa and Kamwendo are likely to be given a nod in this encounter.
Madagascar’s strongest weapon lies on their wings and underestimating them will be too suicidal.
A side, 20 steps below Malawi in the FIFA rankings, has improved tremendously in all departments and if allowed to penetrate, they can destroy opponents within seconds.
It’s a battle of destiny for the Flames of Malawi.