Dreams of Malawi under 23 national football team of progressing into the next round of Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers have been thrown into turmoil following the team’s failure to utilize the home ground advantage after going down 1-0 to the visiting Young Chipolopolo of Zambia in the first leg match played on Wednesday at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
The loss has put more pressure on the Junior Flames as they are assigned to travel to Zambia for a must win second leg encounter scheduled for Sunday in Lusaka.
A 76th minute corner kick header, by a Zambian Belgium-based striker, Fashion Sakala, which gave a lead to the visiting side was enough to silence the home fans until the final whistle.
The loss means the Junior Flames must score more than a goal in their away return fixture on Sunday for them to progress into another round, which is likely to be uneasy task.
Speaking after the loss, Junior Flames head coach, Make Mwase, acknowledged that the team has put itself under pressure following the disappointing result.
Mwase said: “We didn’t expect to lose and this is very unfortunate to our side because we had all the confidence but we still believe that it’s not over yet until we play the second leg.”
Mwase further acknowledged that the team’s midfield was in tatters and the disease of conceding goals towards the end of the matches is still haunting the team.
On the other, coach for Zambia, Beston Chambeshi, expressed gratitude over his boys but admitted that Malawi gave his boys a tough time especially during the first half.
“Registering a win in an away game gives us confidence but we need to be cautious at home.
“We believe Malawi will play an open game in Zambia which they will likely concentrate much on attacking and this will give us a chance to utilize loopholes in their defense,” said Chambezi.
If the Junior Flames fail to beat Zambia in the second leg match, it will also mark the end of their road to 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo Japan.