Africa Cup of Nations record

Previous appearances in finals: (2) 1984, 2010

Best performance: First round 1984, 2010

Drawn in Group B with Guinea, Senegal and Zimbabwe

Coach: Mario Marinica

Romanian-born Marinica was appointed on Dec. 5, just a month before the start of the tournament, after the Malawi football association demoted his predecessor Meke Mwase to assistant.

Marinica, 57, had a journeyman career including stints in Tanzania and India and has worked at the youth academies of several London clubs.

Mwase, a former Malawi international, was demoted after a disappointing World Cup qualifying campaign.

Key players: Frank Mhango Age: 29. Forward

Mhango was the Golden Boot winner in South Africa’s premier league two seasons ago but injury has left him with little game time over the last six months.

The speedy striker has proven a devastating finisher when in form and has been a regular for his country over the last nine years.

He is one of just a handful of players in the Malawi squad at foreign clubs.

FIFA world ranking Dec 2021: 129

How they qualified: Runners-up in Group B, behind Burkina Faso but ahead of Uganda and South Sudan.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Ernest Kakhobwe (Nyasa Big Bullets), William Thole (Be Forward Wanderers), Charles Thom (Silver Strikers)

Defenders: Lawrence Chaziya (Civo Sporting), Dennis Chembezi (Polokwane City), Gomezgani Chirwa (Nyasa Big Bullets), Peter Cholopi (Be Forward Wanderers), Mark Fodya (Silver Strikers), Limbikani Mzava (AmaZulu), Stanley Sanudi (Be Forward Wanderers)

Midfielders: John Banda (UD Songo), Chikoti Chirwa (Red Lions), Chimwemwe Idana (Nyasa Big Bullets), Micium Mhone (Blue Eagles), Charles Petro (Sheriff Tiraspol)

Forwards: Peter Banda (Simba SC), Yamikani Chester (Be Forward Wanderers), Zebron Kalima (Silver Strikers), Francisco Madinga (Dila Gori), Richard Mbulu (Baroka FC), Frank Mhango (Orlando Pirates), Khuda Muyaba (Polokwane City), Robin Ngalande (St George).