Football Association of Malawi (FAM) President Walter Nyamilandu Manda has challenged the Flames to make history by reaching the knockout stages of the Africa Cup of Nations finals for the first time.
Nyamilandu made the remarks when he addressed the players during the Flames’ first team meeting at La Valle de Bana hotel in Cameroon ahead of the AFCON kickoff on Sunday.
This is the Flames third AFCON appearance and in the previous outings the team bowed out in the group stages.
But Nyamilandu told the boys this year’s tournament presents them an opportunity to leave a mark in Malawi’s football history.
“We must make a record which we have never done in the past. Last time in 2010 we went to Angola we beat the strongest team of the tournament Algeria. But we lost the other two matches and bowed out. When we beat Algeria there were huge celebrations in Malawi and up to now Malawians still remember that match.
“In 1984 during our maiden appearance we drew 2-2 against one of the tournament’s favourates Nigeria and one of our stars Clifton Msiya scored the goal of the tournament in that match. People still remember that.
“What will Malawians remember you for? When we leave this tournament will Malawians remember you for good things or bad things? Malawi should not remember you for losing 10-0 or scoring own goals or for indiscipline. We must leave a mark here by qualifying for the knockout stages. You must become the first generation in our history to go past the group stages.
“This a unique team. You qualified nice and clean with good results and you can do more than what others did before. Nothing is impossible.
“We need positive minds and approach in everything that we will be doing here for us to get results. We need to change our way of doing things and adopt the new approach. We need to have a big heart to go an extra mile and we will go far in this tournament,” said Nyamilandu.
He urged the team to be united saying they can only archive results if they work as a group.
“We will win as a team. Let’s love each other. We are all one and should work as a unit. Togetherness took us this far and we must remain united. They will be surprises here. Things will not be smooth here but we must stand together and focus on the war at hand,” he said.
The Flames are in Group B alongside Guinea, Zimbabwe and Senegal and will begin their Afcon campaign against Guinea on Monday January 10, before meeting Zimbabwe on January 14. The Flames final group stage match will be against Senegal on January 18th.