The Flames coach Ronny Van Geneugden has justified this afternoon’s international friendly match against Harambee Stars of Kenya at Moi International Stadium, saying it aims to rectify some national team players’ mistakes much earlier.
Questions have risen on the significance of the match as it comes barely three days after the Flames 3-0 loss away to Morroco’s Atlas Lions in the 2019 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier and over a month before their next qualifiers on October 10 and 13.
The friendly has also raised eyebrows among soccer lovers considering that the Flames had no international strength-testing match prior to their Group-B qualifier against the higher-ranked Morocco.
RVG yesterday insisted the friendly will have a positive effect on the national team’s preparations for their next competitive games.
“This is a very important game to us because in our match against Morocco we played well and deserved more but we made some individual mistakes that need to be polished much earlier before our next qualifiers,” he said.
“Now, we can immediately use the friendly against Kenya to make amends on the mistakes we made against Morocco and other previous encounters. As you know, we will soon play away to Cameroon which has world class players as Morocco and we need to start rectifying our mistakes much earlier,” he said.
But soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda yesterday punched holes into FAM’s decision to arrange this afternoon’s Kenya friendly.
“I really do not know the purpose of this match because one would have expected a tune-up game prior to having a competitive encounter. The way things are done at FAM baffles at times,” he said.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary Alfred Gunda said last month that they were looking at the possibility of securing a friendly before the Morocco encounter.
However, it did not come to pass and the Flames just relied on local camping in their preparations.
Gunda yesterday did not respond to our questionnaire on why the team failed to play the promised friendly matches.
International friendly matches help national teams gauge their strengths and weaknesses ahead of crucial encounters, including Afcon qualifiers and they are mostly relevant if played much closer to impending competitive fixtures.