The Malawi National Soccer side aka the Flames conceded in the 87th minute to lose their preliminary first leg qualifier of the 2018 Championship of African Nations (CHAN) against Madagascar at Mahamasina Municipal Stadium in Antananarivo on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors used the same formation that played to a goalless draw with Kenya on Tuesday in a strength-testing match in Nairobi.
However, Flames coach Ronny Van Geneugden made three changes to the squad that started against Kenya, with Dalitso Sailesi, Yamikani Chester and Harvey Nkacha all given their first start to the team.
Ronny Van Geneugden
On the field of play, it was the Berea Stars of Madagascar who dominated the half as Ernest Chipuwa made some saves to frustrate the home fans.
With Muhammad Sulumba playing as a lone striker, fewer chances were created by the visitors who lacked pace in the final third of the match.
In the second half, Van Geneugden introduced Manase Chiyesa for Sulumba, Yamikani Fodya for Yamikani Chester and Gilbert Chirwa for Francis Mulimbika as Malawi pushed for the much needed goal.
Despite making these changes, the Flames found it very difficult to unlock the hosts’s defence who were a marvel to watch in front of the newly elected CAF President.
Madagascar continued to make things difficult for Malawi as they kept on pressing harder in search for the opener.
Just when everybody thought the game was heading towards a stalemate, the home team banged in their opener.
A defensive relapse by the visitors allowed the hosts to capitalize, allowing their talisman to put the ball into the back of the net with just three minutes left on the clock before the final whistle.
After the final whistle, Flames team manager Peter Mponda said Madagascar deserved to win.
“We played well but in football, goals count. Our friends deserved to win the match because they played well in the entire minutes. We have made things very difficult for ourselves but we are hoping for a good game on 29th April at home,” he said.mw24