Flames face Burkina Faso in must-win clash

The Malawi National Football Team should beat Burkina Faso at all costs if they are to keep their 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualification dream alive.

The Flames, who are third in Group B with 3 points from three matches, were beaten 3-1 by the Stallions in the first leg on Thursday.

Now, winning on Monday afternoon at Kamuzu Stadium is a must but it won’t come on a silver platter.

The Flames have never beaten the Stallions who have registered five wins in six meetings between the two sides.

However, Meck Mwase is optimistic that his charges can beat Burkina Faso to keep piling pressure on the two top teams.

“I will just tell the boys to up their game and beat them at our backyard. We will try to press for goals so that we keep our qualification hopes alive and playing at home is what we need at the moment to close the gap between us and the top two teams,” he told the media soon after the final whistle in Ouagadougou on Thursday.

Malawi should worry about Ajax Amsterdam’s forward Frank Lassina Traore who scored a brace, with the first goal arriving just after two minutes into the match on Thursday.

Mwase, who will be without the injured Gabadinho Mhango, will still rely on Richard Mbulu who missed two clear cut chances last week.

The Flames coach will also be hoping to see his charges playing an attacking football unlike in the first leg which saw them playing too many unnecessary back passes which brought too much pressure from their opponents.

A win will likely open up the group which is currently dominated by the Stallions and the Cranes of Uganda.

In head-to-head terms, Malawi and Burkina Faso have met five times (four in the World Cup qualifiers) and one in the Afcon qualifiers.

The first meeting between the two sides in 17th June, 2000 ended in a goalless but Malawi lost the return leg 4-2. In 2009, they met again and it was Burkina Faso who registered 1-nil back to back wins over the Flames.

And in 2020, the Stallions were 3-1 winners over Malawi in the 2022 Afcon qualifiers.

The onus is now on the Flames to break the jinx and avenge the previous defeats by claiming all the points at the sun-bathed Kamuzu Stadium.

A defeat will surely be the end of the road for the flag carriers who last qualified for the Afcon finals a decade ago.

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