Attack with all might to score an early goal. Avoid conceding at all cost that was Malawi’s game plan. Defend fiercely to absorb the pressure and hit them on counter attack was visitors Madagascar’s approach.
At the end of the day, it was Madagascar coach Auguste Raux who got it right while the Flames coach Ronny van Geneugden missed the plot.
The coach handed the old guards such as Joseph Kamwendo, John Lanjesi, Dave Banda, Lucky Malata a starting berth, opting for a mixture of experience and a raw talent in Africa Nations Championship (Chan) second leg yesterday at a half-full Bingu National Stadium (BNS) in Lilongwe.
In search for goals that would upset a 1-0 loss in first leg, the coach deployed Manase Chiyesa to partner Ishmael Thidwa with Binwell Katinji and Yamikani Chester playing in the wings. Banda and Kamwendo played in the central midfield while Stanley Sanudi, Francis Mlimbika, Malata and Lanjesi were at the back.
Malawi started offensively, taking the game to the visitors. Chester was a thorn in the visitors’ camp tearing the defence with quality dribbling skills. He nearly gave the home team the lead in the 13th minute.
Despite the Flames dominating possession they never had a shot on goal the entire 20 minutes. Instead it was the visitors who had a single attempt on goal which was tamed by Ernest Kakhobwe on Malawi goals.
The visitors absorbed the pressure and proved their tactical prowess when they got the all-important away goal just 30 seconds in the second half. Rokotoarimaldla Tsilavina rounded off defender Malata to score past Ernest Kakhobwe.
It was a painful moment for the fans to swallow after an impressive first half performance from the hosts. RVG was in the 55th minute forced to remove Kamwendo for Dalitso Sailesi and Banda for Chimango Kayira but no immediate impact came.
After the game Van Geneugden blamed the visitors tactics. “They played to frustrate us from the start, faking injuries and in the process delaying the game.
Our game plan was to play a high tempo game but we got frustrated,” he said. He also blamed his players for missing clear chances. His counterpart Raux said they had a game plan to score a goal which they did.
Madagascar play Mozambique in second round.