WITH new coach Ronny Van Geneugden on the touchline, Malawi National Football Team, the Flames yesterday began their Championship of African Nations (Chan) campaign on a low when they lost 1-0 to Madagascar at Mahamasina Municipal Stadium.
The Flames were haunted by same problems: lack of concentration towards the end when they conceded with three minutes to time.
Madagascar scored from 30 metres and broke the hearts of the Flames. The loss means the Flames must score two goals without a reply in the second leg at Bingu National Stadium this weekend to advance to the next round. Prior to the game, expectations were high from the local fans following the arrival of Geneugden.
To many soccer fans, they were hoping a better result under the Belgian. But it was a same old story as they failed to grind out a result in the Indian Ocean Island nation.
According to leader of delegation, Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Vice President, James Mwenda the Flames dominated the game but missed several scoring opportunities.
Geneugden made three changes to the side that drew 0-0 against Kenya. Dalisto Sailesi, Yamikani Chester and Harvey Nkacha started in place of Gilbert Chirwa, Simeone Singa and Kelvin Hanganda but the Flames once again fired blanks in two consecutive games. Sailesi was Flames best player on the field with a solid display. Muhammad Sulumba was replaced in the second half by Manase Chiyesa . The Kamuzu Barracks FC striker impressed and was lively.
Surely, the new Flames mentor has a big task to improve the striking force which has proved to be impotent in two games. Ranked 120 in the world, Madagascar reportedly played with a purpose and got the important goal heading into the second leg.
But Flames Team Manager, Peter Mponda, though disappointed with the loss, was optimistic that the Flames would overturn the deficit in the second leg. “We are disappointed with the way we conceded from 30 metres but we have lost as a team,” Mponda said in a brief interview from Madagascar.
The team returns from Madagascar tomorrow and will not break camp training until Saturday when it will play Madagascar in the return match at Bingu NationalStadium in Lilongwe.
Flames line up: Enerst Kakhobwe, Francis Mlimbika, Stanely Sanudi, John Lanjesi, Lukcy Malata, Dalitso Sailesi, Davie Banda (Captain), Chimango Kaira, Yamikani Chester, Harvey Nkacha and Muhammad Sulumba.
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