Fans decry Flames coach Meck Mwase’s defensive tactical approach in away games

Coach Meke Mwase and his charges

* Following Friday’s 0-2 loss to Cameroun in 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup qualifier in Yaoundé

* “With due respect to our coach and [technical] staff, I would say the team formation was poor”

* “We played 4-2-3-1 which means our boys were restricted in terms of how they play”

* “We need to quickly get basics right, otherwise Mozambique may give us tough time in RSA”

* The next match against Mozambique is tomorrow, Tuesday at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg

By Duncan Mlanjira

As Malawians look forward to the Flames’ second 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup qualifier against Mozambique tomorrow, September 7, following the 0-2 loss against Cameroun in the opening campaign in Yaoundé, coach Meck Mwase has been advised to approach every game in attack tactic than the defensive style he usually makes in away games.

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Malawian fans took to social media with guns blazing, criticizing coach Mwase that his defensive 4-2-3-1 in Yaoundé was a wrong approach against a team of the caliber of the Indomitable Lions — who “studied [the Flames’] tactical approach [and] didn’t bother with ball possession [but just] exploited the weakest points”.

The commentators — dubbed ‘Monday Coaches’ by former Flames’ Danish coach, Kim Splidsboel many years ago — said the loss to Cameroun is nothing special as the team lose crucial matches “all the time” but it was the tactical approach that is worrisome.

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After watching the game that was beamed live on Azam TV, Richard Waluza said: “With due respect to our coach and [technical] staff, I would say the team formation was poor”.

“We played 4-2-3-1 which means our boys were restricted in terms of how they play. l felt sad seeing Richard Mbulu calling his fellow players to come forward. I could understand he was isolated upfront there.

“Next time [against Mozambique] try to give freedom to our players so that they can play flat out. The idea of using a lone striker has never been good for us ever since. So I suggest, regardless of any formation, let’s still use two strikers.”

The Flames

Christopher Njeula observed that the Flames “miserably fail on transition when they lose possession” and that scorer of the first goal, Aboubaker, was all alone in the danger zone enjoying acres of free space.

“He had the audicity to neatly control the ball, saw the wider angles, and did the rest to perfection,” Njeula said. “The 2nd goal, further exposed our tactical deficiency — when a goalkeeper moves to challenge those balls, elsewhere, he is trained to make sure he gets the ball first, and then three defenders immediately drop to cover the goal area, in case the goalkeeper misses.

“Kakhobwe went on to challenge the duel, surprisingly only one defender covered the goallines. We failed the basics. In terms of passing and building play, the Flames were top notch, but failed to spot the right pass in the final third.

Kakhobwe

“We need to quickly get basics right, otherwise, Mozambique may give us tough time in RSA.”

The qualifier against Mozambique is a home match but to be played in Johannesburg after Confederation of African Football (CAF) condemned Bingu National Stadium as not fit to host the World Cup qualifiers.

However, FAM and the Ministry of Sports are still rehabilitating the stadium for CAF to assess if it can be fit for the other home matches of the group qualifiers alongside Côte d’Ivoire.

Football commentator, David Kanyenda — who is former Mighty Wanderers general secretary — also observed that defensive frailties in the early minutes of the game allowed the hosts to coast to a 2-nil lead within the half hour mark.

David Kanyenda

He observed that Cameroun’s “Pierre Kunde showed amazing vision to locate skipper Vincent Aboubakar who snuck behind the Flames defence to finish with aplomb”.

He added that the Flames “momentarily exhibited signs of recovery but were caught from a corner kick this time through hefty defender Ngadeu, who leapt the highest beating both Mzava and Kakhobwe in an aerial duel”.

“Flames showed far too much respect to the Indomitable Lions, especially in the opening exchanges and paid heavily for failure to settle early. Cameroon continued to surge forward but Malawi defended better going into the recess.”

Kanyenda also observed that after the Flames coach Mwase made some changes coming from the break, the Flames were a rejuvenated side.

Gabadhino Mhango started on the bench

Mwase withdrew Gerald Phiri Jnr and Tawonga Chimodzi for Gabadinho Mhango and Chikoti Chirwa respectively that added steam to the match and Kanyenda observes that Cameroun “struggled to deal with the pacy Malawian attackers Gaba, Peter and Chester — who got into scoring positions but failed to convert”.

“Ultimately, the Flames will rue their own defensive lapses that gifted soft goals to an otherwise more fancied and illustrious opponent. But the recovery, resilience and character displayed thereafter offers Mwase hope for a better outing on Match Day 2 against neighbouring Mozambique.”

The schedule on Azam TV

Zambian Tagme Aswell said the late substitutions cost the Flames the game and as Kanyenda put it, immediately Gabadhino and Chikoti Chirwa were introduced, the game changed.

He also advised the technical panel to work on perfecting goalkeeping — otherwise “let’s focus our attention on our next game at home. Much love brothers from 🇿🇲.

Another Zambian, Osward Musonda said: “The current Malawi team is playing well, the only problem is the coaching system. I watched the game, unfortunately the coach killed the game. Anyway, I am a Zambian 🇿🇲 nikambako che.”

Chris Mahuka told Musonda that playing well for Malawi is their culture “but the problem has been conceding and failing to score” while Shaibu Chipereka said the team “needed to go flat out. Who said we should play defensive away games. Dogs are supposed to be let loose from the onset”.

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