Malawi’s mediocre defending on Wednesday returned to haunt the national team as they conceded two goals in five minutes in a 2018 World Cup preliminary round first leg against the Taifa Stars at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
The 2-0 loss means the Flames have an uphill task of upsetting the tables with not less than two goals at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre this Sunday, yet coach Mtawali believes in cold comfort that it is doable.
After firing goalkeeper trainer Phillip Nyasulu and dropping goalkeeper Richard Chipuwa due to poor performance, Mtawali pledged a much improved performance in Tanzania.
But the comedy continued as central defenders Limbikani Mzava and Miracle Gabeya gifted the hosts the opener after they both failed to intercept a pass deep inside the box, allowing the TP Mazembe striker Mbwana Aly Samatta to ghost in from the blind side.
Three minutes later,
Samatta’s partner Thomas Ulimwengu doubled the lead, this time after recalled Simplex Nthala disappointed the nation with his poorly executed dive in an attempt to keep out a harmless ball that hit him on the side before landing on the striker who slotted it home.
But after the game, Mtawali applauded his team’s second half performance after the Flames’ renewed purpose and created a couple of scoring opportunities.
“The plan was to contain them in the first 15 to 20 minutes, but I think the players lost concentration and this allowed Tanzania to score those two goals,” Mtawali said.
“But in the second half we did well. We have two days to work on the mistakes. We can surprise them at Kamuzu Stadium.’
Captain Mzava apologised for the mediocre defending.
“Everyone put some effort in the game. We dominated the first 10 minutes of the game. But I must apologise for those goals. We let their strikers come behind us. Especially I and Gabeya and the right back [Stanley Sanudi].
“We focused too much on the ball and forgot to man mark them. Those are the goals that let us down. We will pull up our socks and do well to score three or four goals in the second leg. The supporters must forgive us and give us support in the second leg. The supporters should forgive us and give us the benefit of the doubt in the return leg,” Mzava said.