…As John Banda pleads for support from Malawians..
Malawi National Football Team head coach Marian Mario Marinica says his charges are ready to face seven-time Africa Cup of Nations winners Egypt in the first leg of Afcon qualifying match in Cairo on Friday night.
The Flames landed in Egypt earlier this week ahead of the first tie before hosting The Pharaohs next week in Lilongwe.
Speaking through the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) Communications Department, Marinica, though admitting that some of his charges are not fully fit for the tie due to lack of game time amongst his foreign based players and a prolonged off-season break in the domestic football, is very optimistic that he can pull something out of this match against Africa’ heavyweights.
“I could say that we are ready and good to go for this game. Our preparations, by large were good. We could have been better but we talked about this before in terms of having the players spend more time in camp, having them fit and at the same time, it could have been more better if the players were playing several matches for their clubs but that’s the situation so we have prepared them based on what we have and we are ready to face our opposition,” he said.
On his tactical approach, the Romanian said: “Like before with Senegal and Morocco and other teams we have faced, we believe that as the game starts and we have 50-50 chances, we will try to defend our 50 percent of the chances in order to finish the game with a good result,” he concluded.
On his part, interim Captain John Banda said winning in Cairo will give them an opportunity to qualify for back-to-back Afcon finals for the first time in history.
“Everybody is here and everybody is geared for the game. Every player is willing to be in the starting eleven because we know that if we can do better here, we know we have more chances of qualifying for back-to-back Afcon finals for the first time in history so every player knows how important this game is and we just need to remain focused and try all we can to get the results.”
“Our coaches have done everything and it’s up to us to stick to the game plan. People are doubting us but this is their team. We need their support so that we can get the result,” he said.
Banda, who scored Malawi’s consolation goal when they lost 2-1 in Cairo added that his experience will be very vital to inspire the youngsters that anything is possible in football regardless of the type of opposition.
“I was part of the team that lost 2-1 here and I scored in the goal in that match and the experience I have will help the youngsters to believe in themselves because we have a very good side but we are facing a very good opposition which can be beaten. If they undermine us, it will be their downfall because we are geared to prove a point and we are ready to go,” he concluded.
From the previous matches, Marinica’s charges have faced Egypt ten times, winning three games, drawing twice, and losing five times.
The return match is slated for 28th March 2023 at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.
All the four teams in Group D have three points each, with Ethiopia leading the standings, seconded by Malawi, Guinea and Egypt.
Follow us on Twitter: