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Reality check

Togo hand Under-23 lesson

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Malawi Under-23 National Football Team, the junior Flames, got a timely reminder of their strength when they suffered a 3-0 defeat to Togo in an international friendly at Darman Stadium, Antalya, Turkey Monday.

The defeat comes four days after Malawi beat Kuwait 2-0 at Kremlin Centre on Thursday. This means the junior Flames have ended the tour with a win and a loss in two matches.

It was a comical display from the junior Flames who failed to play a passing game.

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The match also exposed Malawi’s weaknesses.

For the better part of the game, the junior Flames, failed to match Togo youngsters, who were dangerous in attack.

The junior Flames were behind as early as 31 seconds into the game after Yenoussi Guillaume pounced on a loose ball after goalkeeper Emmance Nyirenda fumbled the first attempt.

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Togo doubled the lead from the penalty spot through Klidje Thibault after defender Blessings Mpokera committed a foul against a Togolese striker.

The Junior Flames tried to reorganize themselves with striker Mphatso Kamanga hitting the frame of the goal post.

After the break, Head of Technical Marian Mario Marinica made three changes when he brought in Chance Mtete for Nyirenda, Alick Lungu for Tatenda M’ balaka and Robert Saizi for Lloyd Aaron.

However, Steven Nado scored the third goal for Togo early in the second half. The junior Flames tried but failed to get a consolation goal.

Before the match, Marinica made three changes to the starting line-up against Kuwait on Thursday.

Goalkeeper Nyirenda was handed his debut replacing Mtete whereas in defence Kestern Simbi started in place of Fanizo Mwansambo. Midfielder Aaron was also in the starting lineup.

The Romanian was using the two matches as preparations for the upcoming Nations of African Championship (Chan) qualifiers in June and also Olympic qualifiers later this year.

Sports analyst Kelvin Moyo said the junior Flames were second best on the day.

“We played against a team that was superior tactically. Going forward, there is a need to continue exposing the guys to such tournaments in order to improve,” Moyo said.

Malawi senior team is also expected to participate in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers in June and Cosafa Cup at a date yet to be announced.

Marinica admitted that his troops were outplayed.

“Togo had more experienced players as the majority of their players are based in Europe. We had Malawi-based players except Charles Petro. But the players embraced my philosophy in the first game but it was different in the second game,” Marinica said

Malawi line-up:

Nyirenda, Charles Petro, Hadji Wali, Simbi, Innocent Shema, M’balaka, Aaron, Chawanangwa Gumbo, Kamnga, Christopher Gototo.

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