South Africa under-20 national football team Coach, Thabo Senong, has praised Malawi as strong opponents who his Amajita should be wary of ahead of the final qualifying round of the Africa Cup of Nations finals.
Speaking after his team beat Mozambique 3-0 on Sunday to date the junior Flames through a 4-1 aggregate score, Senong said his team should work hard to defeat Meke Mwase’s charges.
“Malawi are scoring a lot of goals, but they are also conceding. We need to work hard in our preparation to defeat them. Football has changed— teams are now experiencing a lot of pressure at home because of expectations from their fans, so that puts them in an anxiety mode.
“I am not surprised that Malawi battled to play at home; and the same with Angola at home. You can see with our match as well—we had a good game away, and Mozambique played better than us in South Africa,” Senong told Kick-Off.com.
A brace from Orlando Pirates striker Lyle Foster and a goal from midfielder Wiseman Meyiwa of Kaizer Chiefs ensured Amajita’s qualification to the final round after the first-leg ended in a 1-1 draw.
But local football analyst, Enos Chatama, said the Angola result is an indication of the potential that Malawi has to do well in football.
“Most of the players who featured for Malawi on Sunday in Angola were in the team that did well in the 2016 Cosafa Youth Championship in Mauritius. So, it is just a question of building on the success and managing the players well,” Chatama said.
He said the junior Flames technical panel should have a proper strategy to help the players remain focused as South Africa have players from big clubs.
The junior Flames’ 4-1 win in Angola was in sharp contrast to the team’s struggles for goals in most of its matches.
In a related development, Football Association of Malawi (Fam) General Secretary, Alfred Gunda, yesterday credited the junior Flames’ emphatic win over Angola to the friendly match the youngsters played against Zambia in preparation for the return leg in Luanda.
“The 1-0 loss to Zambia took our boys out of their comfort zone. It made them see the need to redeem themselves and they did just that. We congratulate them for making us proud,” Gunda said.
Gunda said the biggest motivation that Fam will give the players for progressing to the final round of qualification will be good preparations for the South Africa matches which will take place in July.
“They will play South Africa in the new financial year when the 2018/19 budget will have been passed. This will enable us to get more resources from the government for better preparations. We will certainly need to get some friendly matches for the boys,” he said.
Fam Technical Director, John Kaputa, said he personally organised a special motivation session for the players to help them build confidence for the game.
“Like soldiers going for war, the team needed to believe in its ability to do well. The players needed a change of mindset. They needed to be told that they could win just like Angola won when they came here. I encouraged them with a biblical tale of the best wine coming at the end of the wedding party and they believed,” Kaputa said.
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