Flames were affected by pre-season blues—coach Mabedi

* Conceded first goal as early as the first minute of the match and trailed 0-2 after four minutes

* We started sluggishly, we were too static — in fact we didn’t show up in the first 25 minutes or so

By Duncan Mlanjira

Flames coach Patrick Mabedi attributed the 0-4 loss against Kenya’s Harambe Stars in the 4-Nations Tournament to not being active since November when they played two matches of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Africa qualifiers.


Thus Mabedi said his charges were affected by pre-season blues, saying: “This team didn’t play a competitive match prior to the tournament. The preseason also affected our preparations.

“Today, we started sluggishly, we were too static — in fact we didn’t show up in the first 25 minutes or so.

“When we started to get back, we had already conceded two goals. It’s not an excuse as we need to start finding solutions,” he is quoted as saying by Fam.mw.

On his part, Kenya’s coach, Engin Firat said were tactically above the Flames in all areas: “It was a good match for us. We had new four players who really understood our strategy.

“We were fantastic on the ball and Malawi showed a fighting spirit but we prevailed. If you play positive quality good football the results will come but if you depends on luck you are going nowhere.

“You have to be focused and we were focused,” he is quoted as saying adding that despite the score line it was difficult game and it was a good experience for the Harambee Stars.

The Flames will face Zambia in the third place play-offs on Tuesday after the Chipolopolo also lost 5-6 to Zimbabwe on post–match penalties following a two-all draw ion regulation time. Kenya and Zimbabwe will clash in the final on the same day.

The 4-Nations tournament presents a valuable opportunity for the four teams to prepare for the upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup and 2025 AFCON qualifying campaigns.

Malawi’s Group H opponents for 2026 FIFA World Cup are Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, Namibia, Liberia and São Tomé e Principe while Kenya are in Group F with Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, The Gambia, Burundi and Seychelles.

Zimbabwe are in Group C alongside Nigeria, South Africa, Benin, Rwanda and Lesotho with Zambia in Group E with Morocco, Congo, Tanzania, Niger and Eritrea.

The qualifying matches for the 2026 FIFA World Cup started in November and will resume in June in which the Flames are on 3rd position having beaten Liberia 1-0 away in Monrovia before losing by same margin against Tunisia here at home.


The Flames tie on 3 points with Namibia but Namibia are on second position on goal difference while Equatorial Guinea and Tunisia tie on six points after registering two wins in Match Day 1 & 2 in November but Tunisia are at the top having a goal difference of 5 against Equatorial Guinea’s two.

Equatorial Guinea first overcame Namibia 1-0 and Liberia also 1-0 while Tunisia first beat São Tomé e Principe 4-0 before beating the Flames 1-0 with Namibia seeing off Sao Tome e Principe 2-0.

After June, the next qualifying matches for Flames’ Group H will be in 2025 (March, September, October and November).

In yesterday’s match, the Flames conceded as early as the first minute of the match as Kenya captain Michael Olunga Ogaga capitalised on Malawi’s lack of composure to fire home at close range.

He came back to haunt Malawi within four minutes this time from the spot after left back Joseph Balakasi fouled in the box.

Ayubu Timbe Masika netted the third in the 83rd before substitute John Avire netted the fourth (90+4′)

Malawi missed a penalty in the 69th when Kenya goalkeeper Patrick Mutsotsi Matasi saved Lloyd Aaron’s spot kick.

Mabedi first XI had Brighton Munthali (goalkeeper), captain Stanley Sanudi, Denis Chembezi, Joseph Balakasi, Jubril Okedina, Lloyd Aaron, Chimwemwe Idana, Wisdom Mpinganjira, Robert Saizi, Chawanangwa Kaonga and Gabadihno Mhango.

Subs were Innocent Nyasulu, Nixon Mwase, Mwai Hervi Kumwenda, Patrick Macheso, Patrick Mwaungulu, John Banda, Lloyd Njaliwa, Lanjesi Nkhoma, Chifundo Mphasi, Chrispin Mapemba, Yamikani Mologeni, Lawrence Chaziya