Same old Flames
Malawi concede late to draw with Bangladesh
History rewrote itself for Malawi National Football Team Wednesday when the Flames conceded late to see their international training match against Bangladesh end in a 1-1 stalemate.
The match was played at Prince Mohammed Abdulaziz Sports City in Saudi Arabia, where Malawi are preparing for their back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Egypt.
Conceding late has been a big problem for the Flames who find it difficult to withstand pressure in the dying minutes of matches.
According to Football Association of Malawi (Fam)’s Facebook page, Malawi took the lead through veteran striker Chiukepo Msowoya in the 75th minute but Bishwanath Ghosh leveled the scores in the 89th minute.
This was the first-ever international training match between the two teams.
Although this was just a practice match, Flames coach Mario Marinica should be concerned with the result as his team has failed to win in three consecutive matches. Last month, Malawi played Lesotho twice with a 1-1 draw and a 1-0 loss at Bingu National and Civo stadia, respectively.
The result also means Marinica has plenty of homework to do ahead of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying matches against Egypt later this month.
On paper, Bangladesh were an outright walkover for the Flames, considering that Malawi are 68 places above them on Fifa rankings.
The Flames are ranked 124th whereas Bangladesh are on position 192.
However, details from Fam media indicate that the Flames sweated for the stalemate.
As a practice match, Marinica had the luxury of featuring two teams so that he determines his players’ readiness for the Egypt showdown.
In the first half, the Romanian trusted goalkeeper Charles Thom with Lawrence Chaziya, Paul Ndlovu, Gomezgani Chirwa and Kieran Ngwenya manning the defence.
Micium Mhone captained the team as he started in midfield alongside Chimwemwe Idana, Frank Willard and Fransisco Madinga. Christopher Kumwembe and Gaddie Chirwa were deployed upfront.
After a barren first half, Marinica made wholesale changes in the second half, bringing in Brighton Munthali, Stanley Sanudi, Nixon Mwase, Miracle Gabeya and Mark Fodya.
Blessings Mpokera, Alick Lungu, Gilbert Chirwa, Stain Davie and Msowoya were also given a chance.
Mhone was later reintroduced for Chirwa, who picked an injury.
Madinga and Ngwenya were the Flames’ only foreign country-based players, with captain John Banda failing to arrive in time for the match.
Marinica was not readily available for his comment last night but, ahead of the encounter, he said the team would fight for a win to honour victims of Cyclone Freddy which has claimed over 225 lives in the Southern Region.
The Flames are expected to play another practice match against a team from Libya tomorrow, subject to confirmation.
Sports analyst Parry Chinyama said the result casts doubts on Malawi’s state of readiness for the Egypt match.
“We should be worried. We needed to beat teams like Bangladesh to show that we are ready for Egypt. But going by this result, I can see disaster against Egypt,” Chinyama said.
Malawi take on Egypt on March 24 in Cairo before hosting the Pharaohs four days later.
It is expected that some foreign country-based players will fly straight to Egypt for the first leg.
In another Group D match, Guinea will face Ethiopia.
All four teams in the group have three points each after playing two matches apiece.