Malawi national football team Head Coach, Ronny van Geneugden (RVG), has said the Flames deserved better from their Cosafa Castle Cup Group B match against Botswana which ended 1-1 on Wednesday night at Old Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, South Africa.
“Yeah, very painful. We were four minutes [away] from a big final against Angola had we beaten Botswana today [Wednesday]. Then I thought we had everything in our own hands to play for victory in the group stage. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out,” RVG said.
The draw, coupled with Monday’s 1-0 loss to Mauritius, condemned the Flames out of the running for a quarter-final berth, with an academic game against Angola today to wind up the group assignments.
Bottom-placed Malawi have one point in the group after two matches while leaders Botswana have four points.
Angola and Mauritius are tied on three points after losing a game each. The Flames are the only team in the group that has not won a match.
Reflecting on the draw, RVG said his charges were just minutes away from sealing a win after going ahead through defender Precious Sambani’s fourth-minute goal. Kabelo Seakanyeng equalised for Botswana in the 86th minute.
“The game started very well for us. I think we played good football. We knew that Botswana had a lot of power-play and strong duels in front with long balls. So it was a tough game for our defenders but I think they did very well and I think we also had some chances to make it two and maybe 3-0. At half-time, we knew that pressure was going to be too high for Botswana.
“I don’t like to criticise the referee [Celso Vacao] but I think he was supposed to produce a red card [for a foul on Richard Mbulu]. I do not say that this had an influence on the game but he must follow the rules,” the Belgian said.
It was the Flames’ eighth draw in 14 games under RVG, with the rest being two wins and four defeats.
Botswana Coach, David Bright, said his second-half tactical switch paid off.
“Obviously, we expected a very quick game from Malawi because one, they were looking for their first three points, and then we were also looking forward to earning full points to top the table.
“To me, I think since I came here, this was the toughest game of all the games that I have watched. They gave us a very good game. In the first-half, we were a little bit down as some of our players, especially the right back, lacked confidence.
“But after talking to them at half-time, we adjusted. Our strikers were not combining well and that is when we took our right winger to play with a striker who scored. We brought in a defensive midfielder because they were very strong in midfield. But this was a very good game of football. I am happy that we did not lose the game,” Bright said.