* The guys are looking sharp. They are looking forward to the Lesotho game
* We know its not going to be easy — but at the end of the day, we need to do our best and double our efforts
* As we do in each and every game. But so far, everything is 100% okay
Ahead of the 2023 COSAFA Cup semifinal match against Lesotho scheduled from at 15h00 CAT this afternoon at King Zwelithini Stadium in Durban, South Africa, Flames coach Patrick Mabedi believes it will be a continuation of the mission that started on July 6, when they beat defending champions Zambia 1-0.
In an interview with Fam.mw after the Flames’ last training session, Mabedi is quoted as saying his charges were more than ready for the battle: “The guys are looking sharp. They are looking forward to the Lesotho game.
“We know its not going to be easy — but at the end of the day, we need to do our best and double our efforts as we do in each and every game. But so far, everything is 100% okay.”
According to Fam.mw, in the two sides’ 21 meetings, Malawi registered 12 wins while Lesotho won four as five ended in stalemates.
However, Malawi has not beaten Lesotho since 2008 as in the last four matches between the two, Lesotho claimed two wins and two draws. One of their victories was in 2022 COSAFA Cup at the same venue.
Lesotho also managed to hold Malawi in the last meeting between the two sides in an international friendly match at Bingu National Stadium in February.
But Mabedi told Fam.mw that everything has a beginning and an end: “On paper, they have already won, but on the ground, this is a different season. It’s a different team.
“I think it’s not going to be the same. As you know, we wanted to change things for Malawi. “We started with Zambia who were always beating us. Why not with Lesotho? So, we are looking forward to do that now.”
Fam.mw says apart from Chikumbutso Salima, who is still injured, Mabedi has a full squad for the semis and quotes the coach as saying: “We had a few knocks. We had Alick Lungu who had a little bit of a knock, but he is recovering. Only Chikumbutso Salima is still injured.”
The match will be a battle of two teams that have taken the tournament by surprise. They both failed to make it past the group stages in 2022, but have this time improved tremendously.
Lesotho were the first to qualify for the semi-finals from Group C after two consecutive victories over Mozambique and Mauritius and lost to Angola in the last group match in which they rested most of their star players.
Malawi on the other hand, won all their Group B matches with a 1-0 win over Zambia, 2-0 over Seychelles and Comoros with same score line.
Malawi, who are currently ranked 126th by Fifa while Lesotho is on position 152, have now reached the COSAFA Cup semi-finals on four occasions and have gone on to the final twice.
In 2002 the Flames lost 4-1 on aggregate to South Africa and the same score line to Mozambique the following year. Lesotho last made it to the final in 2006 and lost to Zimbabwe 6-0 on aggregate.
Mabedi is expected to name the same squad that delivered in the last match against Comoros. The Flames just got a boost after five Flames players and Mabedi were named in the COSAFA Cup Group Best XI for.
Goalkeeper Brighton Munthali, who has three clean sheets centre back Denis Chembezi, fullback Alick Lungu, forwards Chawanangwa Kaonga and Lanjesi Nkhoma have made the list.
Lesotho have striker Neo Mokhachane and Thabang Malane on the list while Zambia, who face South Africa in the other semi-final, also have two players — Kelvin Kampamba and Kelvin Kapumbu.