5 June 2012

Malawi/Nigeria: We Have to Make Home Advantage Count - Ng'ambi

Malawian midfielder Robert Ng'ambi has just completed a relatively successful club season captaining Platinum Stars in the South Africa Premier League but on Saturday he will be among key players hoping to transform club form to country when the "Flames" host Nigeria in a 2014 World Cup qualifier. Cafonline.com spoke to Ng'ambi ahead of the encounter against the "Super Eagles" to be played in Blantyre at the weekend.

How important is it to do well at home against Nigeria?

Ng'ambi : Every international game is important to a player and this is even more important as it is the first home match for us this year. We have to make home advantage count as nothing is guaranteed when playing away and our away record is not good enough.

Nigeria seems to be struggling of late does this matter to you as hosts?

It does matter and in a big way. We have to take advantage of Nigeria struggles and make the most of it. We have to use that as our advantage. We have to win all home matches and try to snatch points away. Our goal should be getting maximum points in all home matches.

And the Flames do have a strong home record

It is a plus for us to play at home but nothing is achieved yet. Our home record will matter depending on the squad we have. We have some young players being integrated in the team by the coach but in this type of a match, you need more experienced players. Obviously the coach knows better but we need experienced players who can handle the pressure of facing a giant like Nigeria.

Do you have an idea yet of the Nigeria you will face on Saturday?

I have an idea having watched some of their recent games against Botswana and Kenya. They appear to be struggling even at home. Scoring also seems to be a challenge for them, even more away. But we cannot underrate them. They are powerful and strong.

The odds are surely be staked against the Flames since you have not beaten Nigeria for decades?

We have never beaten them but it is not cast in stone that we cannot end that bad record against Nigeria. It is not easy beating a team of Nigeria profile but we can do it. More pressure is on them since they missed out on qualification for the last Africa Cup of Nations finals.

Do you feel intimidated playing against Nigeria's big name players?

On the contrary, this is the type of a game any worthwhile player must stand out and be counted. You need to prove yourself against the best team to be a best player. I am personally up to the task; no nerves what so ever.

But the Flames are also struggling evidenced by the goalless draw in Kenya on Saturday.

There is no cause for panic. We need to rectify this as quickly as possible. It's all in our heads as players. Let us hope playing at home would help us end this winless patch.

Do you realistically think Malawi can qualify for the World Cup finals in Brazil?

All teams that are in the qualifying race want to qualify; you need to be ambitious but obviously this has a limit. We have never qualified for the World Cup finals and even our qualification to the final of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations was the second ever and it happened after 26 years so it is tough for us. We may not stand a chance of World Cup qualification but we will give it our best shot.

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