Malawi beat South Sudan 1-0 through Gabadinho Mhango’s trademark goal to get the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Group B qualifying campaign underway at Kamuzu Stadium on Wednesday.
Peter Kanjere analyses how the players and coach Meck Mwase fared.
Brighton Munthali: He was on holiday for the better part of the game. However, his ball distribution was so flawed and he failed to communicate to his colleagues and organise his defence.
Lucky Malata: Four years out of national team football is too long a time. Little wonder, Malata struggled with the pace of the game and misplaced most of his clearances in the first half when he cut a lonely figure badly in need of encouragement. Nonetheless, his aerial ability helped the Flames defence to deal with long balls which South Sudan pumped forward.
Stanley Sanudi: Had one of his best games in Flames’ colours, staying close to attackers and maintaining positional discipline. His recovery tackles, pressing and passing were good but his combination with Yamikani Chester failed to click in the first half due to the winger’s evident lack of match fitness following the off-season break in America where he plays for North Carolina.
Gomezgani Chirwa: Showed versatility switching from right-back to fill Precious Sambani’s void on the left-back slot. He was effective in defence and going forward linking up play well with Gabadinho. He must minimise running with the ball right from his half where he cannot impact on the game.
Peter Cholopi: Was energetic and dynamic in his play and matched the tempo of the game, often times covering up struggling Malata.
John Banda: Operated in a more advanced attacking midfield role and took time to come into the game. He came to life in the late stages of the first half and built on that for the rest of the game, breaking up and launching attacks. However, as stand-in captain, he did little to rally his troops such as Malata, who was low on confidence, on.
Gerald Phiri Junior: Nearly scored in the second minute when he drifted inside and sent a long range effort wide. He operated in a free role, linking up play between midfield and striking force but had limited impact on the game before Chimango Kayira replaced him.
Chimwemwe Idana: Worked so hard and maintained his position so well but seemed to duplicate roles with Banda.
Chester: Had a quiet first-half but came to the party in the second with his tricks and turns that helped unlock South Sudan’s defence. He formed a deadly attacking combination with Gabadinho and Richard Mbulu.
Mbulu: He was the Flames’ focal point of attack and, while outnumbered by the towering visitors, he worked so hard for the team holding up play but lacked enough support from Gabadinho who operated too wide. Mbulu did everything right but score with his penalty appeals ignored.
Gabadinho: Scored a 68th minute stunner, his first goal that ended a four-game scoreless run with the Flames. He has regained his form and was too quick in decision making for his slow team-mates. All he needs is to strive for consistency in his scoring business and keep away from confrontations. It is difficult picking faults in his play. Man-of-the match.
Mwase: The absence of centre-back Charles Petro poses a challenge for Mwase. He got his substitutions right and they were timely but there is no question that this team is struggling to score. Three goals in four consecutive games is not good enough.