By Mabvuto Kambuwe:
Malawi under-23 national football team is hoping for a quick response when it faces Belgium’s First Division B side Oud-Heverlee Leuven (OHL) in a practice match in Brussels this afternoon.
The junior Flames are in the European country as part of their preparations for two back-to-back 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games qualifiers against Zambia next month.
Having lost 3-1 to STVV in the opening match last week, Malawi are hoping to better the result in the second game of the tour.
The Meke Mwase-led coaching panel featured two different teams in each half against STVV.
In today’s match, the junior Flames must exercise caution against a side which has scored 38 goals in the last 30 games in all competitions.
Mwase and his backroom staff, with the influence of Flames Coach Ronny van Geneugden, are likely to make changes to their player combinations as they hunt for a win.
In the opening game, Mwase bemoaned the lack of firepower upfront and it is yet to be seen if, at all, he has worked on the problem.
Malawi assistant Coach, Peter Mponda, said the morale in camp was high and the players are geared to prove their worth against OHL.
“We are in the process of making our team competitive. We failed in the last game, and the scoreline may suggest so, but the lads played well. This time, we want to match our talk with a convincing performance.
“Fitness levels are good and we have no excuse at the moment. We are beginning to focus more on the Zambia game and we want better coordination. Of course, we will make some changes in this game but not beyond what is necessary,” Mponda said.
A local coach, Andrew Chikhosi, said the trip to Belgium would offer the players a good platform for exposure.
“I believe the players and the technical panel are learning a lot from this tour. The standards are high in Belgium and we just need to put the knowledge gained to good use,” Chikhosi said.
The match is expected to kick off at 3pm Malawi time. After the Belgium tour, the junior Flames will travel to Egypt for another friendly against the young Pharaohs.
Malawi advanced to the second round of the qualifiers after a 3-2 aggregate victory over Botswana. The junior Flames won 2-1 in Gaborone before a 1-1 stalemate at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
OHL are on position seven on the log table in Belgium’s lower league with 10 points from 12 games.
Some of OHL’s players include Derrick Tshimanga and Fredrick Durplus.
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