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Naby Keita nabs Flames point

Group D wide open

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Old habits die hard. Malawi National Football Team conceded a late goal as they went down 1- 0 to Guinea in a 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier at General Lansana Conte Stadium last night.

Just when it looked like The Flames had done enough to earn a vital point away, Naby Keita broke the hearts of Malawians with a 92nd minute wonderful goal.

It was painful to concede a late goal after The Flames contained the West Africans, who had gone five matches without a win.

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The result means Group D is wide open as all the four teams have three points each.

Ethiopia, who stunned Egypt 2-0 at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe last night, top the group with three points, above The Flames on goal difference.

Guinea are third with the same number of points whereas Egypt are bottom of the group after conceding two goals and scoring a single goal.

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The Afcon qualifiers will resume in September.

Malawi will face Egypt home and away whereas Guinea and Ethiopia will also meet.

Flames coach Marian Mario Marinica maintained the line-up that beat Ethiopia 2-1 in the first match at Bingu National Stadium.

In midfield, John Banda, Gerald Phiri Junior and Chimwemwe Idana also started whereas Khuda Muyaba, Gabadinho Mhango and Stain Davie were maintained upfront.

The hosts started the match on a high in search of an early goal and pressurised The Flames.

Guinea dominated the first half and had a lion’s share of ball possession. But both teams registered no shot on target the entire first half.

Flames first effort in the first half came from Khuda Muyaba but he blasted over the bar.

In the 33rd minute, Marinica was forced to make a change when he brought in defending midfielder Charles Petro for injured Phiri Junior.

The Flames went for recess with four players namely Banda, Idana, Thom and Sanudi booked.

After the break, Marinica made double substitution when he introduced Micium Mhone and Alick Lungu for Sanudi and Muyaba.

The substitution brought some life into Flames attack and the midfield also started ticking.

But Mhango and Davie were tightly marked by the hosts. Towards the end of the match, Yamikani Chester and Chikoti Chirwa came in for Davie and Idana.

After the game, Marinica said his troops lost concentration towards the end of the match.

“We did not play as we wanted. We had chances but we did not take them. Sometimes, when you play big teams, players lose concentration and we got punished,” Marinica said.

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