Malawi national football team, the Flames, need to quickly realise the meaning of keeping it tidy at the back if they are to salvage something in Guinea during Friday’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
Such lessons must have been evident last night when the Ernest Mtawali’s charges surrendered a first-half 1-0 lead to draw 1-1 against Sierra Leone’s Leone Stars during a practice match at Siaka Stevens Stadium in Free Town.
“It was not an easy game. We played well in the first 35 minutes and scored first, but in the last 10 minutes, we stopped playing our normal game and we conceded,” Mtawali said in a post-match interview.
“We have learnt a lot. The game was at 50-50 in the second half. We tried everybody. I was happy with Joseph Kamwendo and Robert Ng’ambi. They were a marvel to watch. It shows that we needed their experience. Harry Nyirenda had a knock, but we will assess him tomorrow.”
South Africa-based winger, Micium Mhone, reportedly put the Flames in front after 18 minutes.
But the hosts, featuring some nine Europe-based players and roared on by a full house, levelled matters.
Reports suggest that the Jomo Cosmos winger Mhone scored following some neat exchanges with Kamwendo and Ng’ambi, who were playing for the first time under Mtawali.
Before the match, Mtawali, who featured Brighton Munthali between the sticks yesterday in a somewhat defensive 4-2-3-1 formation, said he was concerned with the goalkeeping department.
Mtawali has tried in goals Simplex Nthala, Richard Chipuwa and now the former Malawi Under-20 starlet, Munthali could not prevent the 115th ranked Leone Stars from equalising. The Flames are ranked 104.
It was a first draw in three meetings between the two teams with Malawi having won the other two friendlies.
In a post-match interview with BBC Sport, Sierra Leone Football Association president, Isha Johnson, said she was excited that her country was able to host international football matches after being officially declared Ebola-free last November.
Flames starting XI: Munthali, Stanley Sanudi, Limbikani Mzava, Nyirenda, Francis Mlimbika, Mhone, Kamwendo, Wonder Jelemani, Isaac Kaliati, Ng’ambi, Chiukepo Msowoya.