FRANCISTOWN: New Zebras coach, Adel Amrouche will go straight into the deep end just days after his appointment, when he leads the team against Malawi’s Flames in a 2022 World Cup qualifier at the Francistown Sports Complex tomorrow.
The return leg is in Malawi next week Tuesday. The Zebras come into the match high on confidence after having endured a fairly impressive run in recent months, which includes making it to the COSAFA Cup final.
The Zebras lost 1-0 in the final, before bowing out of the Africa Nations Championships (CHAN) qualifiers to the same opponent.
The Zebras are depleted, as they are without left back, Lesenya Ramoraka, who plies his trade in the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL), due to injury. Ramoraka has been in good form for his team, Highlands Park.
Township Rollers forward, Segolame Boy has withdrawn from the squad for family reasons. Boy has played a vital role in the national team in recent times. Winger, Kabelo Seakanyang will also not be part of the team as he has been given time to sort out his work permit at his new club in Malta.
Despite the withdrawal of some key players, Zebras do have an array of players who can give the Flames a torrid time. The likes of Mothusi Cooper and Mogakolodi Ngele are capable of steering the Zebras to victory. The only undoing for Ngele is that he has not played club football for months.
TS Galaxy FC forward, Thero Setsile is one player expected to play a key role tomorrow. He has proved reliable for the national team in recent times. Setsile
It is inevitable that the Zebras will settle for an attacking approach owing to Zebras assistant coach, Teenage Mpote, who preferred it during his reign. Mpote, who is now assistant to Amrouche, was influential in picking the team, which explains why the Zebras might stick to an attack-minded approach while the Belgian is still familiarising himself with his new environment. Amrouche is also a firm believer of attacking football.
The Zebras cannot afford to underrate Malawi. The Flames boast a better head-to-head record against the Zebras. Malawi can turn to quality players such as striker, Gabadinho Mhango and attacking midfielder, Gerald Phiri who ply their trade in the PSL.
However, the Zebras have shown much improvement in recent months, something the visitors should also worry about. The winner of the two legs will join the group stages to produce Africa’s best five teams to earn the ticket to Qatar 2022 World Cup finals.
The group stages would feature 14 preliminary round winners and the 26 teams who received a bye. The 40 teams will be split into 10 groups of four teams, with the pool winners going to face each other in the two-leg finals, to determine the five African sides that make it to Qatar in 2022.