By Williams Gondwa:
Malawi under-23 national football team Coach, Meke Mwase, has blamed the fear factor for his charges’ 1-0 loss to Zambia in a return match of the 2019 under-23 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Lusaka on Sunday.
The junior Flames were booted out of the competition 2-0 on aggregate after losing the first leg by the same scoreline on Wednesday in Blantyre.
Mwase said he believes his charges were intimidated by the pedigree of some of Zambia’s players, who compete in Europe.
Among the top stars of young Chipolopolo who play outside Zambia are Emmanuel Banda (France), Fashion Sakala (Belgium), Patson Daka and Enock Mwepu (both Austria).
Zambia’s current crop of players also won the 2017 under-20 Afcon.
Mwase said, while Malawi were impressive in the Sunday match, his charges were visibly affected by the fear factor in both legs.
“They must have been rating themselves against their opponents who play in Europe. It is like they believed that we could not beat Zambia. This is what cost us. We did not play to frustrate them. We feared them.
“That said, I believe we have a good team that would do better in the next two years. I need to sit down with Fam [Football Association of Malawi] on how best we can encourage these boys to continue fighting,” Mwase said.
However, former Flames defender Clement Kafwafwa faulted the technical team for failing to understudy Zambia.
Kafwafwa said player-selection also affected the team’s performance.
“After going down last Wednesday, we saw how players performed in Zambia during Sunday’s match. After our loss at Kamuzu Stadium, we talked about using a lone striker and other players who were on the bench.
“But the coaches did not want to change. Going forward, we need to do some serious soul-searching so that we can come up with better results next time,” Kafwafwa said.
The junior Flames were expected to do better after undergoing thorough preparations which took them to Belgium and Egypt before the two back-to-back matches against Zambia.
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