The Malawi Flames will this evening have one foot in the Hollywood bets Cosafa Cup semi-finals, if only they can maintain their unbeaten run against Seychelles’ Pirates.
They face the islanders in a late kickoff Group B match at King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi Township, Durban, South Africa.
Comoros lead the group with three points after thrashing Seychelles 3-0 while Malawi who beat Zambia 1-0 are second with the Chipolopolo pushed to third and Seychelles anchoring the group.
The results from day-two will, therefore, give a picture of which teams are front runners to make it to the semis.
Right now it is tricky since all the four teams can finish with six points.
But pressure is on defending champions Zambia and rank-outsiders Seychelles since they are yet to collect a point.
A loss for them means they are out of the semi-final equation even if they win their last matches, since the competition’s rules state that in case of a tie in points, head-to-head results will determine who is top.
This means the match between Comoros and Zambia will have a big impact on Malawi’s fate, regardless of who triumphs.
But interim coach Patrick Mabedi said they are not reading much into the other group members’ match.
He said: “We are just focusing on our next opponent Seychelles. Every game we play here is like a cup final. We are just waiting to go there and do our best.”
The Flames go into the match with an unbeaten record against Seychelles.
The last meeting between the two sides in the 2019 edition saw the Flames winning 3-0.
But Mabedi stressed on the need to respect every opponent at the tournament.
“Football is unpredictable. Obviously, it’s a mind game. We don’t need to undermine them because to me, I think Seychelles are a very good team. We just have to go out there and forget about what history says.
“We need to double our effort and do our best. We need to stick to our game plan. We have been analysing the way they play. We trained accordingly to prepare for them.”
One of the areas that needed polishing, according to Mabedi, was the Flames’ wastefulness.
In the match against Zambia, the Flames did everything they could except scoring.
T h e y d o m i n a t e d possession, toyed their opponents and created p l e n t y o f s c o r i n g opportunities, but failed to make them count.
They had to rely on an own-goal from Zambia defender Aaron Katebe, who headed in a Robert Saizi corner kick.
Said Mabedi: “The good thing is that we are creating chances. That is good unlike if we were not having those chances at all.
“I think we just have to be composed and a little bit patient when in the area. If we do that, I am sure we will surprise one of the teams here with more goals.”
On his part, Seychelles coach Vivian Bothe said they still believe they can pull a surprise against Malawi.
“Obviously, the win against Zambia means they [the Flames] are favourites. But just like them, we can also cause an upset.”
Mabedi is expected to maintain the same first XI.
He said injured Mighty Mukuru Wanderers’ forward Christopher Kumwembe faces a late fitness test if he can partner Zanaco’s Chawanangwa Kaonga.
The match will kick off at 6pm.