Flames coach Ernest Mtawali and his assistant Nsanzurwimo Ramadhan on Saturday took it on the chin and admitted losing the plot in the tactics used in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations’ return leg qualifier against Guinea’s Syli Nationale last month.
The confession was made during the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) technical subcommittee meeting held in Blantyre.
Among other things, the meeting, which was chaired by the association’s vice-president James Mwenda, reviewed the team’s performance in the two matches against Guinea and devise a plan on the remaining qualifiers against Zimbabwe’s Warriors (away) and Swaziland’s Sihlangu (home), as well as the Cosafa Cup.
Malawi held Guinea to a goalless draw in Conakry, then gave away a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 in the return leg at Kamuzu Stadium.
“Primarily, the coaches confessed that they let the nation down by losing the home match. They admitted that the 3-5-2 formation backfired since it was not practised.
“When you are devising a new system, the players need to get used to it. Nevertheless, there were also other contributing factors such as fatigue having played back-to-back within four days which involved travelling.
“It was also noted that some players lacked the fighting spirit and then there was that last-minute hitch whereby Joseph Kamwendo was ruled out due to suspension,” said Mwenda.
The FAM veep, however, said the committee felt the team did well in the away games against Guinea and Sierra Leone as the tactics worked to perfection.
On the way forward, Mwenda said the coaches were given a target to win both the remaining qualifiers against Zimbabwe and Swaziland.
“Although realistically it is a tall order, mathematically we still have slim chances, but only if we can win both games. The other target is that we should win the Cosafa Cup or at least, reach the finals of the Cosafa Cup,” he said
Mtawali yesterday admitted that they lost the plot in the return leg.
“We were facing a must-win situation and the focus was to attack more. But perhaps we could have used the 4-4-2 formation that the players are used to and as I said, there were lessons learnt and as a coach, I take full responsibility,” he said.
Reacting to the set targets, Mtawali said: “It is realistic because we need to win both matches and also do well in the Cosafa Cup to prove our worth and we can do it.”