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Baptism of fire

Malawi bow out of Beach Soccer Afcon

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DEAD AND BURIED—Malawi failed to contain Morocco

Just like a house built on sand, the shaky Malawi National Beach Soccer team crashed out of the 2022 Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals after suffering a second successive loss.

Malawi exited the competition following a 7-3 loss to Morocco at Vilankulo de Arena in Mozambique Monday.

The loss to Morocco came three days after the team suffered a 4-2 loss to hosts Mozambique in the opening match at the same venue.

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This means Malawi exited the tournament without pride having failed to win a match in two games at the continental showpiece.

In two matches, Malawi scored five goals but conceded 11. This was Malawi’s first appearance at the Beach Soccer Afcon finals.

Against Morocco, Malawi needed to win by three goals margin without conceding but they were down by the similar margin at the end of the first period.

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Morocco, who finished third during the 2021 edition, took the lead in the first minute through Mohamed Ghailani before goalkeeper Ismail El Ouriry doubled the lead three minutes later.

Ghailani added the third goal for Morocco.

Come the second period, Malawi showed some resilience and tried to reorganise themselves.

Malawi captain Sandram Saddie pulled a goal back in the 18th minute but Morocco responded quickly when Ibrahim Abagli scored the fourth goal. Anouri Frindi added the fifth goal for Morocco before Dala Simba scored Malawi’s second goal. Malawi continued to pile pressure on Morocco and they were rewarded with a third goal courtesy of Saddie, who took his tally in the competition to three.

With four minutes to full time, Mohamed scored the sixth goal before Abagli completed his hat trick. It was end of the road for Malawi.

Morocco qualified for the semi-finals as Group A winners with six points after they also defeated Mozambique 3-1 on Sunday.

The hosts also advanced to the semifinals as the group’s runners up.

Meanwhile, Malawi will play the third placed team in Group B for the fifth place play-offs tomorrow.

Despite the exit, Malawi Coach Willy Kumilambe said there were positives from the tournament.

“We are going home with our heads held high. We tried and the boys did their best. Overall, we have learnt a lot,” Kumilambe said.

Morocco Coach Sylla Oumar, despite the huge win, said Malawi gave them tough time.

“Malawi is a very good team. I hope next tournament they will come stronger,” Oumar said.

In Group B, defending champions Senegal advanced as group winners.

In the semifinals, Senegal will face Mozambique whereas Morocco will meet Egypt.

Finalists will qualify for the 2023 Beach Soccer World Cup.

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