Malawi women’s football national team coach Abel Mkandawire has said despite the team’s triumph over Kenya’s Harambe Starlets on Wednesday, there is room for improvement ahead of the second leg.
Malawi, ranked 146 by Fifa, beat Kenya 3-2 in the first leg at Kamuzu Stadium which proves the team’s attack machinery was beyond reproach.
The two teams meet again this Sunday in Machakos, Kenya in the second leg of the 2020 Olympic Games qualifier.
Foreign-based Chawinga sisters Tabitha and Temwa, wingers Sabina Thom and Wezzie Mvula and central midfielder Madina Nguluwe were all over their opponents.
But while Malawi were good in the final third, the Harambe Starlets exposed Malawi’s achilles heels in defence.
The back-four of Towera Vinkhumbo, Patricia Nyirenda, Maureen Phiri and Chimwemwe Madise found it difficult to contain Kenyan slippery forward Mwanahalima Adam and towering striker Corazone Aquino.
Malawi goalkeeper Samir Amidu was also full of blunders as she lacked composure and ended up conceding two needless goals.
But Mkandawire said they will work on the team’s shortfalls when the team resumes training today.
“I think we were not compact enough. We need cohesion; we need to play as a unit in all departments. We were giving them too much space, allowing them to attack us after losing the ball,” he said.
Soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda observed that Kenya coach David Ouma’s warning that his team ranked 141 by Fifa, can cause an upset, should not be taken lightly.
“First things first; conceding away goals was a big mistake. At this stage of the competition against such an experienced side, you cannot afford that,” he said.
Meanwhile, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has, apart from the pledge it already made to send the team overseas for camp, also pledged a K100 000 extra bonus for each player if the team qualifies for the third round.
“Tremendous strides have been made and it was a big test for the team. It was a tough match and they coped well,” said FAM president Walter Nyamilandu.
If Malawi makes it to the third round, they will face either Gabon or Ghana.
The qualifiers will go up to the fifth round with winners getting a direct ticket to the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020. The runner-up face Chile play in a play-off. Chile finished second in the South America’s Conmebol qualifying tournament.