Morocco Under-23 national football team coach Marik Wotte was left mesmerised by Flames forward Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango’s dazzling skills after Friday’s training match which ended one-all.
The Dutch coach waxed lyrical of the South Africa-based forward in a post-match interview in Agadir.
“There are a few [players] for Malawi that are technically good, but for me the number 11 is a very good player.
“He is not efficient, but he is aggressive, has good acceleration and is skilful. Where does he play? From an attacking point of view, he is dangerous, tactical and brilliant,” said Wotte.
Asked if he had been assigned by Morocco senior side coach Herve Renard to study the Flames’ style of play ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations’ (Afcon) qualifier in March next year, Wotte said: “He [Renard] didn’t have to. He is an experienced coach and has a good team that can easily beat Malawi.”
Asked to assess the Flames’ performance, the coach said: “There is not much I can say about Malawi. We were in control in the first-half, but they were a much improved side in the second-half in which they played really well. But they got a lucky goal from a deflection.”
The hosts snatched an equaliser with barely four minutes to full time with a strike of utter beauty just when victory appeared within sniffing distance for the Flames.
The beauty of it all lay in the execution, difficult in normal circumstances, but the way Hanourt Hamza defied the acute left angle to beat Flames goalkeeper Charles Swini with a fabulous shot, was pure genius.
On his part, Flames coach Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) said his charges paid the price for being contented with a narrow 1-0 lead.
He said: “What was frustrating for me was that we were comfortable with the 1-0 lead instead of scoring another goal.”
RVG said the Moroccans started at full throttle knowing that his charges would struggle to settle down due to fatigue after a long trip.
“Morocco started very aggressively, we had difficulties settling down until the last 15 to 20 minutes of the first-half when we picked ourselves up.
“The rhythm continued in the second half and we deservedly took the lead. We should have also scored one or two more had we been effective in our build-ups.
“Nevertheless, it was a tough match, we were up against a good team,” he said.
Featuring four Europe-based players, including their playmaker Ennesyri Youssef who plays for Malaga in Spain, Morocco attacked with sumptuous flair, forcing the Flames into rearguard action for the better part of the first half.
That they didn’t score was largely because of goalkeeper Charles Swini’s heroics between the posts. They played a sleek passing game and were quick and incisive on the ball.
But the mood changed in the second half when RVG introduced Chikoti Chirwa and Dalitso Sailesi for Robert Ng’ambi and Peter Cholopi, respectively. From then onwards, they were on song as Sailesi, Chirwa and Gabadinho turned on the magic.
But as has always been the ‘curse’ with the Flames, there was to be a sting in the tail when Hamza grabbed a late equaliser.