IT’S a do-or-die battle for three points when Zimbabwe and Malawi lock horns in an Africa Cup of Nations Group B encounter at the Kouekong Stadium on Friday, January 14.
Kick-off is at 6pm CAT (SA, GMT+2).
The Warriors will also be desperate to get their AFCON campaign up and running after losing 1-0 to the Lions of Teranga in dramatic fashion on Monday courtesy of Sadio Mane’s stoppage-time penalty.
Norman Mapeza’s troops were just seconds away from claiming a point in their group opener when the referee pointed to the spot after Peter Muduhwa handled Fode Ballo-Toure’s shot inside the box.
Back home in Zimbabwe, self-proclaimed prophet Passion Java has promised the Warriors US$5,000 for each goal they score in the match against Malawi today. “Score many goals and make more money,” the flamboyant preacher said.
On the other side of the coin, the Flames began their adventure in Cameroon with a 1-0 defeat to Guinea on Monday, when Issiaga Sylla’s 35th-minute goal proved to be the difference in Bafoussam.
Mario Marinica’s side still have tournament favourites Senegal to contend with next week so picking up a three-point haul against the Southern Africans will be crucial to their chances of advancing from the group.
Yamikani Chester and Khuda Muyaba led the line against the National Elephants last time out, but Marinica could turn to Richard Mbulu from the start after he came off the bench in their first match.
Neither team has made it beyond the group stages before, with Malawi failing in two previous attempts (1984 and 2010) and Zimbabwe on four occasions (2004, 2006, 2017, 2019).
This will be the 13th meeting between the two nations. The Flames have come out on top just twice compared to seven victories for the Warriors.
Their last clash was in the COSAFA Cup last year which finished in a 2-2 draw.