By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawi national football team captain John Banda has openly expressed his team’s confidence and readiness prior to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) group B qualifier away to Uganda to be played on Sunday.
Banda, an experienced midfielder with Blue Eagles in the TNM Super League, said this at a pre-match press conference at the Protea Marriott Hotel Skyz in Naguru, Kampala on Saturday morning.
Flanked by his head coach Meke Mwase and the Uganda Cranes duo of Johnthan McKinstry and captain Dennis Onyango, Banda hinted of how they have prepared physically and mentally for the game that will be held at the Mandela National Stadium, Namboole.
“As a team, we are prepared. We know how good Uganda is.
“We are not scared that we are playing away from home. We are fully prepared for the game.
“We are aware that people in Uganda are prepared to give their team all the support and we urge them to come and witness our fight,” Banda, who was part of the Malawi team that played to a goal-less draw with Uganda in 2018 at Namboole Stadium, is quoted as saying by www.kawowo.com.
The online publication reports that Malawi arrived in Uganda on Friday morning and held their first session at the Star Times Stadium, Lugogo later in the evening and had their final training session on Saturday at the exact game time.
Banda is among the crop of midfielders on the team that include Yamikani Chester (North Carolina, US), Gerald Phiri Jr. (Baroka, South Africa), Robin Ngalande (Zira FK, Azerbaijani), Gabadihno Mhango (Orlando Pirates, South Africa) and Richard Mbulu (Baroka, South Africa).
According to Uganda’s online publication www.newsnow.co.uk, the Cranes’ coach Jonathan McKinstry is enticing the team’s fans to patronize the match in large numbers as they look for victory in this campaign.
“We need more than 11 points to be fully assured of making it to the 2021 AFCON finals,” McKinstry is quoted as saying.
“We expected a very difficult game in Ouagadougou since Burkina Faso has one of the best home records in Africa.
“They have one loss and five draws out of the last 25 matches they have played at home. This shows how strong they are there.
“Picking a point is positive although we would have loved to win the match,” he added.
This information should make Flames coach Meke Mwase to also be wary of Burkina Faso when they shall travel to Ouagadougou.
Mwase has picked the 20-man squad that beat South Sudan against Uganda that will be handled by Sudanese referees.
Goalkeepers: William Thole (Be Forward Wanderers), Brighton Munthali (Silver Strikers)
Defenders: Lucky Malata (Be Forward Wanderers), Gomezgani Chirwa (Civil Sporting), Peter Cholopi (Be Forward Wanderers), Stanley Sanudi (Be Forward Wanderers), Nickson Nyasulu (Big Bullets), Trevor Kalema (Silver Strikers
Midfielders: Idana Chimwemwe (Big Bullets), Chester Yamikani (North Carolina, US), Gerald Keith Phiri Jr. (Baroka, South Africa), John Banda (captain, Blue Eagles), Peter Banda (Big Bullets), Melcium Mhone (Blue Eagles), Kaira Chimango (Nyasa Big Bullets), Chikoti Chirwa (Kamuzu Barracks)
Strikers: Gabadihno Mhango (Orlando Pirates, South Africa), Richard Mbulu (Baroka, South Africa), Hassan Kajoke (Nyasa Big Bullets), Robin Ngalande (Zira FK, Azerbaijani).