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Cranes can’t lift Flames

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Malawi national football team held its own against fancied Uganda’s Cranes to settle for a 0-0 draw at the 45,000-seater Mandela National Stadium in Namboole, Kampala, the seventh draw in 12 games for the Flames Coach Ronny van Geneugden.

Van Geneugden, whose charges are fine-tuning for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches against Morocco, Cameroon and Comoros islands, should be encouraged by the clean sheet but certainly not the finishing.

The Flames’ coach has won twice and lost thrice since being hired last April.

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The Belgian Tuesday handed Be Forward Wanderers left-back Precious Sambani a debut in a reported defensive 4-5-1 formation featuring Portugal-based Richard Mbulu as the lone striker.

Chiukepo Msowoya, who scored when Malawi beat Uganda 1-0 at Kamuzu Stadium in 2015, replaced Mbulu, whereas Frank Banda stepped in for Chawanangwa Kawonga in the second-half.

Malawi were without regulars Gabadinho Mhango, Gerald Phiri Junior and Robert Ng’ambi due to varied reasons.

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Rwandan referee Louis Hakizimana officiated the match between the 123 ranked Malawi against Uganda who are placed 78th in the world.

Uganda Coach, Sebastien Desabre, made three changes to the squad that beat Sao Tome and Principe 3-1 on Saturday, with Denis Iguma, Tadeo Lwanga and Yunus Sentamu replacing Nico Wadada, Geofrey Kizito and William Kizito, respectively.

The two teams have met 28 times, with Uganda winning 14 times against eight victories for Malawi. They have six draws between them.

Flames starting XI: Charles Swini, Gomezgani Chirwa, Limbikani Mzava, Chembezi Denis, Sambani, John Banda Rafik Namwera, Robin Ngalande, Dalitso Sailesi, Kawonga (Frank Banda), Mbulu (Msowoya).

Uganda Cranes XI: Dennis Onyango (Captain), Iguma, Godfrey Walusimbi, Bevis Mugabi, Murushid Jjuuko, Lwanga, Hassan Wasswa Mawanda, Milton Karisa, Emmanuel Okwi, Sentamu, Joseph Ochaya

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