Ernest Mtawali apologises
Malawi national football team coach, Ernest Mtawali, has apologised for Tuesday’s 1-2 home loss to Guinea that left the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign hanging by a thread.
Mtawali admitted that his side did not leave up to expectations, and he was remorseful about the lacklustre performance during the Group L qualifier.
“On behalf of the players, I apologise to all Malawians for this performance. There were a lot of expectations that we would do well, but we were not good enough. The whole team did not play well and I apologise for that. Even though we scored a good goal, we failed to attack well and did not defend as expected,” the Flames mentor said after the match.
Mtawali refused to point fingers at individual players despite costly errors in defence, with youthful goalkeeper, Brighton Munthali, suspect especially in concession of the second goal from a corner-kick.
“We play as a team, therefore, there is no reason to point fingers at anybody. The whole team did not tick today despite making several changes to the system. We just have to focus on the final qualifiers against Zimbabwe and Swaziland and see how it all goes,” he said.
Flames captain, Limbikani Mzava, also apologised to the nation for the defeat.
“We are not happy with the result. It is sad to lose two matches at home in crucial qualifiers. It is hard to explain what exactly went wrong. We seem to lack the self belief. Some of us seem to be overwhelmed by the fact that we are indeed playing for the national team. I, however, plead with the fans not to give up on us. We have a good coach who will work on our weaknesses,” he said.
It was the Flames’ second defeat at home in the campaign after also going down by the same margin against Zimbabwe in June 2015.
The Flames are now bottom of Group L with two points from four matches, while Guinea have climbed to second with five points, above on aggregate with Swaziland, who also have similar points.
Leaders Zimbabwe are the favourites for automatic qualification with eight points from four matches and a good goal difference.
On Tuesday, the Flames started with a 3-5-2 formation and later changed to a more familiar 4-4-2 set up, but that failed to lift the performance of the team.
The Flames took the lead through Chiukepo Msowoya in the 32nd minute of the first half, but Guinea equalised through Mohammed Yattara on the stroke of halftime.
An unconvincing second half performance saw the Flames gift Guinea a soft goal from a corner-kick when Idrissa Sylla capitalised on indecisive goalkeeping to fire Guinea forward in the 60th minute.
The Flames would now have to wait until 2019 to qualify for their third ever Africa Cup of Nations finals.
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