History gives Nigeria the nod
New-look Super Eagles would be hoping for the continuation of their dominance over Malawi’s Flames when they meet on Saturday in a World Cup qualifier at the Kamuzu Stadium in commercial capital, Blantyre.
But the Super Eagles must watch out for the Flames who are a hard nut to crack playing at home where they have only lost once in all competitions since 2008 under coach Kinnah Phiri.
“We are at home and there is no need to fear Nigeria. The boys are ready. Let them (Nigeria) come and see what we have in store for them,” declared the ever-confident Phiri in an interview with Supersport.com.
For Malawi, striker Chiukepo Msowoya, whose crucial goals were largely responsible for the Flames rare qualification to 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, is back to help solve the hosts scoring woes.
Msowoya gives Phiri attacking options with sole survivor from the squad that lost 0-1 to Nigeria in 2003, striker Russel Mwafulirwa also available.
A draw is the best Malawi has ever achieved against the Super Eagles. Ranked 107, Malawi has not won in four games of all competitions this year.
For Nigeria coach, Stephen Keshi, who is now getting into his ninth match, was the Super Eagles' captain when they drew 2-2 with Malawi at the 1984 Africa Cup of Nations.
Keshi's side go into this match backed by their near perfect record of fives wins and a draw in World Cup qualifiers against Malawi.
The Super Eagles have never lost to the Flames and won in their last visit to Blantyre in 2003 with John Utaka as the scorer.
Utaka, who was in the 2003 squad alongside Vincent Enyeama, is available to lead the frontline alongside Ikechukwu Uche and Victor Moses.
“We are here for three points. We believe we can repeat what the Nigeria side of 2003 did in beating Malawi at home,” the Wigan Athletic man told Supersport.com.
Ranked 60, Nigeria's strong 127-member delegation that includes 98 supporters were the centre of attraction as they stormed Blantyre on Friday afternoon.
The match is probably the most high profile of the 10 African qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup being played across the continent on Saturday.