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Malawi host Cote d’Ivoire in Johannesburg in a bid to boost WCQ Group D hopes

An enticing David vs. Goliath matchup opens FIFA World Cup qualifying in the African section on Friday with Malawi encountering Cote d’Ivoire in a Group D duel. The Flames of Malawi are a team on the rise considering surprise qualification for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations, but are still heavy underdogs against the star-studded Elephants and have the disadvantage of being forced to play their home games in South Africa due to not having a suitable stadium. However, they are only a point behind both Cote d’Ivoire and the other African titans in the group, Cameroon.

Malawi manager Meck Mwase displayed no fear in his pre-match comments, admitting that the Ivorians are talented but also that he and his staff have plenty of video to study and are prepared to try and contain the elite attackers within the Elephants squad. Malawian media emphasized that the Flames have teamwork as a key strength and the team staff stated they are treating the match as they would any other. The team’s major stars include Frank “Gabadinho” Mhango, top scorer in South African football last season, as well as talented young center back Charles Petro of recent news makers Sheriff Tiraspol.

The Ivorians are ready to go out for the full three points, and three points will be necessary since they are in a very difficult group with rivals for the top spot Cameroon likely to get maximum points against cellar dwellers Mozambique. Manager Patrice Beaumelle took time to state his respect for the Malawi side and that he has made his charges fully aware of the threat their opponents are capable of posing. He said there should be few issues in having his full complement of players, particularly in defense, despite the travel issues that have plagued many African national selections throughout qualifying.

In an interview, in form Wuhan forward Jean Evrard Kouassi admitted to not knowing much about Malawi but acknowledged that six points from both games is a necessity. Ivorian legend Gervinho is back in the side after a length period out of consideration, but declared that he has plenty to offer and no fear despite now being the 34-year-old veteran among younger competition for starting spots.

Plenty of news links are below relating to both teams.

Malawi out to upset Ivory Coast (SuperSport)
Flames face Ivory Coast test (The Times Group Malawi)
Govt to provide extra money to Flames (Malawi24)

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