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Another Flames flop in South Africa

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The Malawi national football team bowed out of the Cosafa Castle Cup without a win in three games after a goalless draw against Angola on Friday in Polokwane, South Africa.

In the three games the Flames played at the regional tournament, they managed to score just one goal through defender Precious Sambani and conceded two, translating to nine draws, four defeats and two wins under the tenure of Ronny van Geneugden.

The Flames drew 0-0 against Angola on Friday at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium, drew 1-1 against Group B winners, Botswana, and lost 1-0 to Mauritius.

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The Flames finished bottom of the group with two points, one behind third-placed Mauritius.

Angola ended the preliminary round matches on four points while Botswana won the group with seven points.

Botswana’s reward for their sterling performance is a date against Zimbabwe in the quarter-final today.

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But despite the disappointing results, Flames Team Manager, James Sangala, insists that the team did everything right but scoring was the biggest problem.

Sangala says the team is young and needs to be given time so as to develop into a strong squad.

“We are disappointed with the outcome of our games. Things did not go according to our plan. We expected that we would do well. We were one of the favourites in the group and the tournament.

“It is a pity that we have failed to progress in the tournament, having drawn twice and lost once. We prepared very well for the tournament but things did not go well for us. Life goes on. We will continue working hard. This is a long- term project,” Sangala said.

On Friday, the Flames had several chances to score through Gastin Simkonda and Robin Ngalande both failed to make it.

Against Angola, RVG changed the starting 11, opting for Stanley Sanudi in defence after dropping John Lanjesi, whereas Alfred Manyozo Junior replaced Rafik Namwela in midfield as Patrick Phiri earned a place in attack, joining Simkonda and Richard Mbulu.

Last year, the Flames with RVG just two months on the job failed to score in the three games of the same competition after losing 2-0 to Tanzania and drawing by 0-0 margins against Angola and Mauritius.

In 2016, under Ernest Mtawali, Malawi bowed out after losing 1-0 to Lesotho, despite beating Mauritius 1-0 and Angola 3-0.

In 2015, under Young Chimodzi, the Flames entered the competition from the quarter-finals and went on to lose on post-match penalties to Mozambique before beating South Africa and Zambia to win the Cosafa Plate Cup which involves losing quarter-finalists.

National Football Coaches Committee Chairperson, Steward Mbolembole, described the Flames performance at the tournament as disastrous.

Mbolembole said the team had been given the necessary support to deliver at the regional tournament and has no excuse for failing to deliver.

‘The team has been playing friendly matches for close to a year in preparation for this tournament. This is the kind of competition we should have been winning if we are to be counted in continental football. But with such results, we cannot achieve anything,’ he said.

The former She-Flames mentor said the poor performance of the team cannot be blamed on the absence of some influential stars such as Robert Ng’ambi, Gabadinho Mhango, Limbikani Mzava and Gerald Phiri Junior as there are other equally capable players in the team.

Mbolembole said with the poor showing at the regional event, the team needs to do a lot if it is to withstand the heat against Cameroon and Morocco in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

‘We should be very concerned indeed. If our players are failing to beat teams like Mauritius, can we realistically expect them to perform against top African campaigners such as Morocco and Cameroon? I do not think so. Our football is at an all-time low,’ he said.

Meanwhile, the Cosafa Cup tournament continues today with Madagascar dating South Africa as Zimbabwe and Botswana complete the quarterfinal assignments.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS

Group A

Angola 0 Malawi 0

Botswana 6 (Onkabetse Makgantai 3’, 70’, Karabo Phiri 16’, Thatayaone Kgamanyane 20’, Kabelo Seakanyeng 26’, Tshepo Maikano 55’) Mauritius 0

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