By Mabvuto Kambuwe:
eSwatini Coach Costa Papic has described Malawi national football team as a very good side that played as if it were at home in the 2020 African Nations Championship at Mavuso Sports Centre in Manzini.
The match ended in a barren draw as Flames strikers Chiukepo Msowoya and Khuda Muyaba squandered numerous chances created in the first leg match.
This was interim Coach Meke Mwase’s first game in charge after replacing Belgian Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) whose two-year contract, which expired on March 31, was not renewed.
The two teams are scheduled to meet on May 11 at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre for the match that will decide who progresses to the next round.
But speaking in reaction to the 0-0 stalemate, Papic said the second leg will not be easy.
“To be honest, Malawi is a very good team. They play compact football and they were physically ready for this match. From the way they expressed themselves in this match, they came here to win.
“They were not defending like most teams do when playing away. Anyone who watched this match will agree with me if I say it will not be easy in Malawi. But I believe in my boys and we will see what happens,” he said.
Saturday’s result means the Flames must beat eSwatini to qualify to the next round.
But eSwatini, also known as Sihlangu (king’s shield), only need a scoring draw to advance on the away goals rule in the continental competition set aside for home-based players.
Meanwhile, Malawi returned from the kingdom nation through Chileka Airport yesterday.
Speaking on arrival, Mwase pleaded with the players to do more and make Malawians happy in the return match.
“We had chances but we did not score. The players must do more and understand that football is won through scoring goals,” he said.
Veteran striker Msowoya was the major culprit in the Saturday match after missing the Flames’ best chance of the game in the 66th minute.
He was later taken off for midfielder Chimwemwe Idana in the 77th minute as Malawi dug deep.
The Flames have struggled to go past preliminary rounds of the competition, having exited the 2017 edition at the same stage after losing 2-0 on aggregate to Madagascar. Malawi lost by 1-0 margins home and away.
Under RVG, the Flames also struggled to score, having only managed two goals in five Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
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