BAFOUSSAM. — Two teams looking to get their African Cup of Nations campaigns up and running face off at the Kouekong Stadium, as Malawi and Zimbabwe square up against each other.
Both teams suffered defeat in their respective opening Group B fixtures last time out and will want to get back on track with a positive result today.
Zimbabwe were beaten 1-0 in their first clash in the group stage. Going head-to-head with the group’s favourites Senegal, the Warriors traded blows with their opponents and looked like they would get a point. However, Kelvin Madzongwe awarded Senegal a death penalty after he was convicted of handling the ball inside the box.
Norman Mapeza’s men were on course to secure an impressive point against their more illustrious opponents, only for Sadio Mane to break the deadlock from the spot right at the death.
The Warriors find themselves in a familiar situation once again as they stare down the possibility of a third group-stage exit on the bounce.
However, the southern Africans will take great belief from their performance last time out and will hope to use it as a springboard for a more productive outing going forward.
Knowledge Musona and Kundai Benyu were both injured against Senegal and might not play today.
Malawi had nothing to show for a very spirited display against Guinea on Monday when they fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat.
The Flames went behind to Issiaga Sylla’s 35th-minute opener and were unable to get back on level terms in the second period.
Meke Mwase’s men have now lost five consecutive games across all competitions and are in urgent need of a pick-me-up.
Awaiting them next is a clash versus an opposing outfit who have lost only one of the previous 10 meetings between the teams.
Malawi will be looking for their first win at AFCON 2021 today as they aim to progress through the group stage for the first time in history.
Featuring in just their third AFCON tournament in history, Malawi are approaching the last-chance saloon to prevent an early exit from the competition.
Kelvin Madzongwe suffered the agony of giving away the decisive penalty against Senegal, but the midfielder put on an otherwise impressive display and should keep his place in the XI.
Captain Knowledge Musona was hauled off with an injury in the final knockings of the aforementioned match, making the 31-year-old a major doubt for this one
Malawi have had to call upon the services of five reserve-team players due to the numerous cases of Covid-19 within the initial 28-man squad.
Brighton Munthali, Paul Ndlovu, Dan Chimbalanga, Gerald Phiri, and Stain Dave are the players in question and are all expected to arrive in Cameroon ahead of today’s contest.
Head to head Malawi v Zimbabwe
There have been 57 meetings between the two teams. Malawi won 18 matches while Zimbabwe won two more. There have been 19 draws between the two sides.
The two sides last faced off in the group stage of the COSAFA Cup last July. The match ended with a score of 2-2.
Zimbabwe Africa Cup of Nations form:
Zimbabwe form (all competitions):
L L L D D L
Malawi Africa Cup of Nations form:
Malawi form (all competitions):
W L L L L L
Zimbabwe possible starting line-up (4-1-4-1): Petros Mhari; Onismor Bhasera, Teenage Hadebe, Gerald Takwara, Takudzwa Chimwemwe; Kelvin Madzongwe; Ishmael Wadi, Thabani Kamusoko, Never Tigere, Bruce Kangwa; Tinotenda Kadewere
Malawi possible starting line-up (3-4-1-2): Ernest Kakhobwe; Denis Chembezi, Limbikani Mvaza, Gomezgani Chirwa; Francisco Madinga, John Christopher Banda, Chimwenwe Idana, Micium Mhone; Peter Banda; Richard Mbulu, Khuda Muyaba
Prediction: Malawi 1-1 Zimbabwe
With so much at stake, we expect both teams to be fired up which should make for an open and end-to-end contest. That said, we are predicting a stalemate with honours even come the end of the 90 minutes. — Sportsmole.