By Tione Andsen
Lilongwe, June 4, Mana: Malawi National Team aka the ‘Flames’ Coach, Mario Marinica has said they are geared up to face Ethiopia on Sunday for the Group D Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers opener.
He said this during AFCON Group D qualifiers pre-match conference on Saturday at Bingu National Stadium (BNS) in Area 48, Lilongwe.
Marinica said they are prepared for the game and players have been working hard during training shaping up to right fitness levels.
“I don’t think there must be high expectation on the outcome of the game. When you have higher expectations, you may end up being disappointed. What we need to do is to have dreams and work hard to win,” he said.
Marinica said the team has an advantage that 14 local and six professional players that played at AFCON finals in January, 2022 in Cameron are still part of the squad.
He said although they had had no chance to play an international friendly for the past five months, the team still have a potential of bring up desired results.
The Coach believes that the selected players would play the game based on their strength and contribution during training,
Marinica thanked the President and his Vice for sparing their time and come to watch the game which would act as morale booster to the players and the players need to should their ability to bring desired results.
He said the presence of the country’s leadership would not put pressure on the players but would encourage them to do more for the country.
“We are ready for the game. We have prepared to win in order to collect three points tomorrow,” Flames Captain, John Banda said.
He said the morale in the camp was very high and every player was ready to prove that they are able to showcase their ability to delivery.
“Supporters need to come in their large number and cheer us. A win will only be a present we will be able to give our supporters at home,” Banda added.
Ethiopia National Team Coach, Wubetu Abate said from the outcome of the AFCON qualifiers draw; they knew that they were in a very tough group.
He said Group D teams were in AFCON final and they progressed to the next rounds to which Egypt lost in the final, Guinea losing in the quarter final while Malawi bow out in the last 16 of the final.
“We played two friendly matches in Lesotho and we had draws. From there, we have reduced our squad from 28 to 23 players. We know Malawi is a good team and they play direct football,” Abate echoed.
He said one player was injured but has recovered and they have no injury worries within their squad.
Captain for Ethiopia, Shimeiis Bekle said they don’t talk of their opponents and they just wait keen to play their on Sunday.
He said the weather is a little bit cold but it is just as same as in their country.
President, Dr Lazarus Chakwera and Vice President, Dr Saulos Chilima are expected to watch the counter at Bingu Stadium and the match is slated to kick off at 3 pm.