|Malawi goalkeeper Swadick Sanudi takes some time out against Algeria [AFP]
The Malawi football team say they have been subjected to "psychological warfare and torture" in the buildup to their crunch Group A match with Angola – claiming a "conspiracy" against them by the host nation.
Hours before the teams were due to take to the pitch at the November 11 stadium in Luanda, Malawi released a statement lodging an official complaint at their treatment which they say has left the players "absolutely shattered."
It comes as the team had to cancel a training session on the eve of Thursday's showdown, in which Malawi could qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals for the first time and leave Angola staring at an early exit.
Malawi said they had fought a "bitter war of words" over the allocation of a training pitch after twice finding a local club side already practising on their turf – which is also being used by Angola.
"From events that have unfolded, it is clear that there was a conspiracy to disrupt the training programs of Malawi National Team in order to give undue advantage to Angola," said the statement sent to Al Jazeera from Malawi Football Association general secretary Charles Nyirenda.
"It is clear that there was a conspiracy to disrupt the training programs of Malawi in order to give undue advantage to Angola...our team does not deserve the psychological warfare and torture that it has been subjected to"
Charles Nyirenda, Malawi FA general secretary
"The FA of Malawi wishes to put on record that the treatment that has been accorded to the Malawi National Team in as far as training facilities is concerned has been unfair and uncalled for.
"It is our view that our team does not deserve the psychological warfare and torture that it has been subjected to."
Malawi lodged their complaint with the Confederation of African Football (Caf) after a series of rows with organisers.
Trouble started on January 9, one day before the start of the tournament, when Malawi arrived at Luanda's Desportivo Inter Club to find the local side already embarked on pre-season training.
Malawi say a "bitter war of words" enabled them to take over the pitch at the expense of Inter.
On January 12 they arrived at the ground to find their opponents Angola already in training, forcing them to rent out another ground.
Finally, Malawi cancelled their evening training on Wednesday when Inter were again found on the pitch.
"To avoid a direct confrontation with the football club and its players, the Malawi National Team pulled out and cancelled its training session," Nyirenda said.
"The team was absolutely shattered that its crucial training session before playing Angola was once again disrupted.
"From the outset, we found the decision to share one training ground with other teams as not being prudent because of the natural rivalry that exists among members of participating teams in a group.
"It is our sincere hope that the organisers of the Africa Cup of Nations will up hold the spirit of fair play and ensure that all teams are given equal treatment that can make them excel in this competition."
Caf were not immediately available when contacted for a statement.
A source from organisers Cocan said the mixup had been due to a mistake by Inter and had not been the fault of the organisers or the Angola team.
Malawi lead Group A with three points going into Thursday's evening kickoff against Angola, who have one point after their 4-4 draw with Mali on the opening day.
Algeria play Mali in the day's first match needing to avoid defeat to stay in the competition.
Source: Al Jazeera