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Abel defiant

Malawi survive Kenya scare to win 3-2

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Malawi Coach Abel Mkandawire leapt and embraced some members of his coaching panel after the final whistle following a 3-2 win over Kenya Wednesday, but most fans reacted to this result as if it were a loss.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games second round, first leg match was full of drama. Kenya hit the post thrice and their coach David Ouma injured his right arm after smashing the dressing room glass door in frustration with Zimbabwean referee Thanks Nyahuye’s officiation.

Ouma was rushed to hospital with blood oozing during break and only returned to the stadium deep into the second half when her charges were in control of the game.

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That Kenya, who host the She-Flames in the second round, second leg match on Sunday, scored two away goals must have scared the sizeable crowd. Certainly not with Mkandawire .

The coach was also defiant when asked about the rationale behind his decision to substitute defender Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda for Ruth Nyirongo when it was evident that the former was more suited to dealing with Kenya’s aerial threats.

“A coach has his own plans. I don’t listen to people. My job is that of coach. I know my players better than anybody in the stands. I know my job and that is why we have won the game. If I listen to people then we are going to lose the game,” he said.

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Mkandawire, who has won five games and lost once since taking charge of the team this year, was optimistic of finishing the job in the second leg. The overall winner dates either Gabon or Ghana in the third round.

“At least, we have won the game 3-2. As I said, we can’t lose at home…fatigue set in. I saw that in my players. The Kenyans are experienced… The good thing is that we have won the game. Usually, our team plays well outside the country. We went to Mozambique and we didn’t concede. I can assure you that we are going to win in Kenya,” he said.

You have to like Mkandawire’s optimism, because apart from a very impressive first half performance that was only undermined by unnecessary long balls that minimised the impact of Tabitha and Temwa Chawinga, Malawi struggled in the second half.

Malawi started the game on the front foot with Captain Tabitha and her younger sister Temwa making their scoring intent known.

However, it was Madina Nguluwe who put Malawi ahead, swinging to the far top right corner direct from a left-flank corner kick in the 13th minute. The stadium erupted into song and dance.

However, Kenya were not just sitting back. Mwanalima Adam gave Malawi a big scare as her long range effort hit the bar and bounced back into play.

Kenya were playing counterattacking football while also stopping the hosts from building play from the back and linking play with the strikers.

Despite this, Towera stood firm, providing leadership to the defence. Her youngster Salome policed the midfield, allowing Nguluwe and Sabina Thom to float in attack.

Against the run of play, the visitors, who had initially hit the post through slippery striker Corazone Aquino, finally got the reward for their efforts as Cynthia Shilwatso scored from a perfectly taken free-kick which eluded nervous Malawi goalkeeper Samir Amidu.

Just when Kenya were pushing for a second goal, Temwa had other ideas. The Sweden-based forward dribbled past several markers before placing the ball onto the path of Tabitha who raced clear to score with a trademark angled low shot beyond Kenya goalkeeper Kwamasi Annedy in the 36th minute.

Two quickly became three for the hosts as Tabitha converted from the spot after Nyahuye blew for a penalty after Sheril Angachi had fouled Temwa in the danger zone while preparing to deal with a long cross from the left wing.

Malawi led 3-1 at half time. However, Kenya came into the second half a changed side after Ouma substituted Nelly Jeptanui and Cynthia Shilwatso for Wincate Kaari and Jentrix Shikangwa.

The visitors pinned the hosts in their own half before Elizabeth Wambui scrambled in the second goal through a header in the 81st minute, minutes after the post had earlier denied Antonio.

Malawi conceded the second goal a minute after Mkandawire had substituted Towera for Nyirongo.

In a post-match interview, Ouma faulted the referee for allegedly failing to manage the game.

“Malawi scored the first goal. It was 1-0 but we came back into the game. However, at this level, the referee cannot make a simple mistake for the second goal. This is not allowed. The flag was up but she gave a penalty. Anyway, we fought. It is 3-2 and now everything is possible as we will play at home. Everything is up for grabs,” he said.

Asked about the dressing room incident, Ouma said: “Of course, a simple situation.I think the dressing room has to be better.. I swing my hand because I want to give instructions but some objects there catch my hand.”

Line ups:

Malawi: Amidu, Thom, Nyirenda (Nyirongo), Patricia Nyirenda, Maureen Phiri, Chimwemwe Madise, Nguluwe (Asimenye Simwaka), Salome, Tabitha, Temwa, Wezzie Mvula.

Kenya: Kwamasi Annedy, Vivian Nasaka, Jeptanui (Kaari), Ruth Mukalukho, Dorcas Sikobe, Sheril Angachi, Elizabeth Wambui, Shilwatso (Shikangwa), Mwanalima Adam, Corazone Aquino, Moraa Bundi

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