Malawi will face Zimbabwe in the Cosafa derby on Friday in their second group stage game of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations at the Bafoussam Omnisport Stadium.
Both of these sides are widely expected to fight for one of the four third-best spots available in the tournament.
Africa Cup of Nations – Group B
Friday 14 January
Stade Omnisports de Bafoussam
Malawi 28/10 | Draw 17/10 | Zimbabwe 21/20
Ranked 129th in the world and 31st in Africa, Malawi are the minnows of the group, not too much is expected of them in this tournament. Their team is mostly home-based players with a few playing their trade outside of the country.
The Flames first went to AFCON in 1984 in Ivory Coast then in 2010 in Angola. They finished bottom of their group on both occasions, winning only one of their six matches (D1 L4). The Malawians will be eager to stop that trend, but a second defeat at Cameroon 2021 certainly won’t bode well.
The Flames lost their opening game to Guinea 1-0 on Monday and will be desperate to pick up their first win of the tournament. They will look to their South Africa-based strikers Richard Mbulu and Gabadinho Mhango of Baroka FC and Orlando Pirates respectively.
Having already tasted defeat at Cameroon 2021, Malawi cannot afford to lose to Zimbabwe, especially with the Flames still to play tournament favourites Senegal.
After a strong showing in their opener against Senegal, losing to a last gasp penalty, Zimbabwe will fancy their chances of getting all three points against the group minnows, Malawi.
The southern Africans are making their third consecutive appearance in the competition, their fifth overall, but like their opponents, are yet to make it past the group stage.
Zimbabwe also failed to qualify for the World Cup, finishing last in their group with no victories to their name.
The Warriors are going through a bad run of form, going winless in their last 13 games across all competitions, losing eight times while finding the back of the net just four times in that period.
Prediction: Zimbabwe Win (21/20)
Off the back of 13 games without a victory, anything but three points will be a major disappointment for Zimbabwe against a team considered Group B’s rank outsiders. As lacklustre as they are at present, the Warriors should still find a way to win here.