Malawi’s Flames yesterday held hosts Botswana’s Zebras to a goalless draw in 2022 Qatar World Cup preliminary round qualifiers first leg played at Francistown Sports Complex.
Playing away in a hostile environment, the Flames opted to camp in their half and operated on counter attacks.
The hosts, on the other hand, were desperate for a goal and pinned the Flames in their own half with no chance of going forward as coach Meke Mwase had planned.
The Zebras captain Joel Mogorosi was ricocheted off the woodwork.denied by the post as his effort Flames goalkeeper Brighton Munthali also foiled the home side twice.
His top-drawer save denied Mpho Kgaswane from within six yards in the 23rd minute.
For the Flames, the first-half was a nightmare as they only had half a chance when Gerald Phiri Jnr’s effort went wide of the far post.
Captain John CJ Banda’s shot also slightly went over the bar from the edge of the box.
Mwase’s trump cards were Frank Gabadinho and Yamikani Chester, but sadly they were nowhere to be seen.
But that was hugely because the central midfield offensive led by John CJ Banda did not tick.
A frustrated Gabadinho ended up complaining about every foul on him.
Mwase eventually pulled out the Orlando Pirates striker and introduced Robin Ngalande, but still got no desired result.
The two sides clash Tuesday in the return leg at Kamuzu Stadium to decide who will make it to the next round.
Coach Mwase described the game as tough considering that Botswana were at home.
“We knew it will be tough. I would like to the boys for working very hard as we had our chances, but we were unlucky not to score,” he said.
“Its good that we didnt concede a goal.”
Flames stand-in-captain Christopher John Banda, who rued missed chances, said they will do better in the return leg on Tuesday.