Phiri jnr urges Flames teammates to remain focused

Malawi Flames, Botswana

Flames star Gerald Phiri junior has urged other players in the Malawi national football team to remain focused when hosting Botswana in the second leg of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on Tuesday.

The two sides played to a goalless draw at Francistown Stadium in Gaborone, Zimbabwe on Saturday.

Both teams arrived in the country on Sunday evening and trained at the match venue before the encounter the next day.

Speaking during a pre-match press briefing at Crossroads Hotel in Blantyre on Monday, Phiri junior said the Flames should forget about the away result and build on it to clash the Zebras.

“We are at home with the twelfth player on our side. Some supporters came out in Botswana to give us the support and we ask those at home to do it more. To us players, we created a lot of chances away and we need to ensure we maintain the focus and avoid conceding as we push for a victory,” Phiri said.

The Baroka FC star had his brilliant freekick denied by the woodwork in Gaborone.

Coach Meke Mwase avoided making promises about getting a positive result saying the performance of the day will speak volume on how they have prepared for the match.

“History does not favour us on away and home games. We normally hold our opponents away and lose it all at our backyard. But from the Eswatini match, you will see that we did not lose, but bowed out of the African Cup of Nations qualifiers due to an away goal advantage. A draw is what we got away and we will try our best to utilize home-ground advantage to get the required result,” Mwase said.

Statistics indicate the Flames had an upper edge over the hosts, but they were just unlucky not to score away.

Meke Mwase, Flames
Mwase and Mpote at the briefing, while Phiri jnr and Mogorosi look on- pictures courtesy of FAM

Botswana captain Joel Mogorosi said they are also determined to finish it off on Flames’ soil.

“We are not playing away. This is our home, Africa is one. Myself I have been here almost nine times and I don’t think I can play like I am playing away from home,” he said.

Their assistant coach Teena Mpote conceded that they struggled with Malawi’s defense, but they have worked on it.