Malawi national football team centre back Charles Petro’s dreams of reaching the third round of the Uefa Champions League qualifying campaign have hit a snag as his Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol lost 1-2 away to Qarabag Agdam of Azerbaijan on Wednesday.
After a 2-0 beating of Luxembourg’s Fola Esch last week in the first qualifying match, Sheriff were confident of going past Qarabag.
However, Sheriff suffered a setback in the 22nd minute when Uros Matic converted a spotkick for Qarabag to take the lead.
Sheriff’s woes continued in the 63rd minutes when Qarabag scored the second goal through Mahir Emreli.
Fola continued to dominate proceedings but Sheriff re-organised their defence to avoid further damage.
This helped them to push further forward and reduce the arrears in the 78th minute through Frank Castaneda.
The last 12 minutes of the match saw both sides fighting for more goals but none managed to find the back of the net.
The final whistle found Sheriff still fighting for an equaliser but Fola stood firm to carry the day.
Petro described the result as disappointing.
“We worked hard to get a result but luck was not our side. We had a good game but our opponents were on top from the first whistle. To me, this was a valuable experience.
“Playing two Champions League matches will greatly improve my career. This is one of the biggest competitions in the world and I have learnt a lot from it,” he said.
One of the country’s football coaches, Aubrey Nankhuni, said Petro stands a chance to sign for a bigger club if he continues playing in Europe’s elite club competition.
“Petro should use the experience of playing in Europe to open up more opportunities. He should not be disappointed with being knocked out of the Champions League. Playing in such big competitions will help him to become a better player,” Nankhuni said.
He said Petro’s appearance in the Champions League is likely to inspire up-and-coming players who will be looking up to him as a role model.
Petro is the second Malawian to play in the Champions League after Essau Kanyenda who featured in the competition during his playing time in Russia.