Malawi national football team coach Kinnah Phiri has defended his defensive game approach against Ghana on Saturday that saw Atusaye Nyondo fighting a lone battle upfront for the better part of Saturdayâ€™s 2013 Africa Cup of Nations final qualification round first leg.
The Flames lost the game 2-0 in Accra and need to win the return leg by a three-goal margin to qualify for next yearâ€™s finals.
â€œYou cannot just go flat out and that is why I stuck to the [4-5-1] defensive formation. We had to be wary knowing that we were playing away,â€ said Kinnah.
Nyondo played his lungs out, but it was evident that he could not cope with the pressure of Ghanaâ€™s defence. But things changed for the better when Kinnah introduced Gabadinho Mhango and Robin Ngalande, who tormented the Ghanaians.
Meanwhile, the Flames coach has torn into Algerian referee Benouza Mohammed accusing him of favouring the hosts.
â€œI do not know why these Algerian referees hate us. During the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations decisive qualifier against Chad [in Nâ€™djamena], it was also the same,â€ fumed Kinnah.
He said the referee failed to take a firm line, citing the dismissal of James Sangala as an example.
â€œThat red card decision was questionable,â€ he said.
â€˜Down but not yet outâ€™
However, Kinnah refused to fly the white flag, saying Malawi still have a chance of qualifying.
â€œWe are down, but certainly not out. We still have another game to play at home.
â€œWe made a few mistakes that led to Ghana getting those two goals, in particular the first one, but overall the boys played well. We matched them pound for pound,â€ Kinnah was quoted as saying after the match.
He also said the result was not a true reflection of the game.
Flames injury-plagued captain Peter â€˜Mjojoâ€™ Mponda also said the Flames should not be written off.
â€œWe have a tall order as Ghana are two goals up, but with a good approach, we can turn it around although it would have been better to get at least one away goal that would have been vital.
We just need to play our lungs out and encourage the guys in the second leg,â€ said Mponda.
Ghana scored the first goal in the eighth minute through Christian Atsu before Anthony Annan added the second in the 54th minute.