The Flames start their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying camping with a mission to get their first win in West Africa as they face Liberia at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Monrovia this afternoon.
Malawi have never won a match in West Africa but Coach Patrick Mabedi says with the right mentality and approach the story will change today.
The former Flames captain says the team need to build on their unbeaten run in the last seven matches under his leadership to start on a good note and stand a chance of qualifying for their maiden World Cup out of group H which also has Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome Principle and Namibia.
“ The players are ready physically and mentally. We have adjusted to the weather here and are looking forward to the game.
“Struggling in West Africa is a mental thing. We always have that mind that when we come here it’s a problem. Secondly, we don’t adjust quickly and manage time during the game. Tactically we also didn’t plan very well in the past .
“ So, I think it’s time to get the basics right with modern approaches to the game and must adjust accordingly. If we mange all the aspects we will be successful.
“ I have watched Liberia in their previous matches. They are a good side if you give them time and space and can hurt you, but at the same time they are vulnerable if you take your oppourtinies and not allow them to play. So basically, it is a team that you need to manage tactically.
“ Every game is important and for us we started preparing for this campaign long time ago with COSAFA and AFCON matches. And now we start our race and I believe that it’s how you start and how you end that determines your destiny. So it is important for us to do our best on Friday and collect maximum points,” he said.
Captain John Banda, who is the longest serving member of the squad and going into his fourth World Cup campaign said they have a good balanced squad capable of getting the three points if they stay focused.
“This is the time to rise and show character against Liberia. This is a very important match for us. These new and young players played at Cosafa [in South Africa] and some of them did well at Afcon in Cameroon but this is a different stage.
“Qualifying for the World Cup will be an important thing to us as a team. We have never won a match in West Africa in a long time but history can be changed with the coming in of youngsters but we all need to focus,” said.
Mabedi has 23 players to chose from with Banda leading a legion of four foreign based players that include defender Dennis Chembezi who plays in Iraq and midfielder Chifundo Mphasi from Zambia and South Africa based goalkeeper Brighton Munthali.
The Flames will return to Malawi on Sunday ahead of their second match against Tunisia at the Bingu National stadium in Lilongwe on Tuesday.