Malawi v Senegal – Hopes in the air

Gabadinho Hellings Mhango of Malawi is congratulated for scoring his and Malawi second goal during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Afcon Finals football match between Malawi and Zimbabwe

Hope is still in the air for both Malawi and Senegal as they enter the Group B final matchday in Bafoussam on Tuesday.

Malawi has three points to their name, one shy of Senegal who share top spot with Guinea. Zimbabwe trail the group pointless.

Match Card

Date: 18 January 2022

Time: 17:00 local time (16:00 GMT)

Venue: Kouekong Stadium, Bafoussam

Group: B

Match: Malawi - Senegal

Gabadinho Mhango of Malawi celebrates goal with teammates during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Finals football match between Malawi and Zimbabwe (2)

Malawi – Flames for history

Malawi Flames were firing on all cylinders in their 2-1 win over Zimbabwe.

Gabadinho Mhango scored twice to give Malawi a famous win and became the first Malawi player to score a brace at the Africa Cup of Nations. If he scores against Senegal, Mhango will become Malawi’s top goal-scorer in their history in the competition.

A point might be enough for Malawi to record a historical place in the second round for the first time in their history. But it would be a tough mission against a highly rated Senegal side.

Neck Mwase coach of Malawi during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Finals Malawi Press Conference

What they said

Meck Mwase (Coach, Malawi)

“We want to finish the group stage on a winning note even though we know our opponents are tough. Tis gives us motivation to even work harder. I told my players they have got an opportunity to make history.

“We have all seen the many surprises so far in the tournament, and our opponents must be prepared as it will not be a smooth ride. We only have one player missing and that is our captain, but we have equally good players that can replace him as we fight to qualify.”

John Banda (Midfielder, Malawi)

“Senegal look good on paper, but they have to know our game against them will be the biggest game of our lives. We believe we can beat them even though they are the favorites. We are motivated by surprises in the tournament, and we believe this is our golden opportunity every Malawian is waiting for.

“It is a fact Senegal has big stars, but our game plan is to surprise them and qualify. It may look like a huge task, but we are ready for the challenge ahead.”

Sadio Mane of Senegal celebrates goal during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Finals football match between Senegal and Zimbabwe (2)

Senegal – A point to prove

The Lions of Teranga were beaten finalists in the last AFCON in Egypt three years ago but are well fancied to go one better this time around, with a star-studded squad. 

Aliou Cisse will be hoping to see a much more potence in attack after drawing blanks in their match against Guinea. 

The Teranga Lions have not scored a goal in open play so far in the tournament and will look to set the records straight when they face Malawi.

A late Sadio Mane penalty in stoppage time ensured victory over Zimbabwe, before Senegal managed only a draw in their second game against Guinea.

Aliou Cisse coach of Senegal during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Finals Senegal Press Conference

What they said

Aliou Cisse (Coach, Senegal)

“We have confidence going into the game, but it’s important to respect Malawi. We are happy that all our players are available which gives us more options. All Senegalese are watching us and it’s our role to give them hope by winning.

“Our ambitions are intact. We are playing against a motivated side that want to go for a special win.”

Abdou Diallo (Defender, Senegal)

“We have to acknowledge we are equally motivated like our opponents as we are taking the game with all the seriousness it deserves. As players we know the importance of this game. We have vowed to go all out for a win in what should be an exciting encounter.

“The coach has helped us work on our past mistakes. Having all our players back in the team gives us motivation to face challenges.”