By Mabvuto Kambuwe:
Malawi under-23 national football team Coach, Meke Mwase, can afford a smile in Belgium where his wards are on a training tour.
His squad is, after two consecutive defeats, now able to put away the scoring chances ahead of crunch Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against Zambia.
This was evident on Tuesday evening when Mike Mkwate’s wonder strike, Hassan Kajoke and Patrick Phiri’s cool finishes earned Malawi a 3-2 win over Belgian top league side, Genk VV, in a training match.
Malawi also beat Roda JC of Holland 1-0 Wednesday courtesy of Chimwemwe Idana’s goal.
In a mobile phone interview Wednesday, Mwase reflected on the match.
“I told the guys that we came here to learn and we must be seen to be learning by improving with each passing game. What we are learning here is about speed on and off the ball and shooting. Our football in Malawi is a bit slow.
Here we are learning speed and aggression.
“In the first and second games, we played well but did not score enough goals. We got it right in the third game. All the goals were well constructed with build ups from the back, resulting in Mkwate making a solo run then scoring from close range before Genk equalised and scored again. We scored again through Kajoke and Phiri after playing quick one-twos,” Mwase said.
Such lessons would be handy for the under-23 as they host Zambia on March 20 at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre, followed by the reverse fixture six days later in Lusaka.
Football analyst, George Kaudza-Masina, Wednesday said although the training environment in Belgium would motivate the players, the Flames went there without a proper plan.
“It is good to camp outside the country but we expect an improved performance against Zambia. Our problems are scoring and goalkeeping. I doubt if the trip to Belgium would address the problems,” Kaudza-Masina said.
As we went to press yesterday, the junior Flames were in action against second-tier side Roda JK Kerkade of Holland.
The overall winner between Malawi and Zambia date either Burundi or Congo Brazzaville in the next round scheduled for June 2019, with the best team from this stage qualifying for the Under-23 Afcon finals scheduled for Egypt in November 2019.
Top three performers from the continental event would qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Qualifying for the Afcon finals guarantees a place at All Africa Games scheduled for Morocco in August 2019.
The junior Flames started the Belgium tour with 3-1 losses to STVV and Oud-Heverlee Leuven. Malawi has scored five goals and conceded eight in the three matches.
The junior Flames will finish their preparations by stopping over in Egypt for a friendly before returning home.
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