Malawi’s Flames on Wednesday suffered a narrow1-0 loss to second-string Zambia’s Chipolopolo in an international friendly match played in an empty Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
Playing 4-3-3, coach Meck Mwase started Silver Strikers’ Brighton Munthali in goal while the defence had Be Forward Wanderers right-back Stanley Sanudi, Nyasa Big Bullets left-back Precious Sambani with Moldova-based Charles Petro partnering Polokwane City’s Dennis Chembezi in central defence.
Mozambique-based John CJ Banda and Nyasa Big Bullets’ Chimango Kayira patrolled the central midfield while Baroka FC’s midfielder Gerald Phiri Jnr played just in front of the two.
USA-based Las Vegas Lights attacker Yamikani Chester played wide on the right sidewhile Orlando Pirates forward Frank Gabadinho Mhango was deployed on the left where he is most lethal when cutting inside. Baroka FC striker Richard Mbulu played as lone striker upfront.
The hosts dominated proceedings as they pinned the Flames in their own half denying them a chance to go forward.
When Malawi tried to find space, the hosts capitalised on the poor build up and punished the Flames on counter-attack.
Just like in March when Malawi lost to the Chipolopolo Boys, it was striker Collins Sikombe again, who did the damage when he got on the end of a cross to beat Munthali at close range in the 14th minute.
In the second-half Mwase made several substitutions with only Sanudi and Petro playing full 90 minutes, but only got a handful of half chances which were not good enough to get the much needed equaliser.
After the game Mwase downplayed the result, saying the friendly had helped him to sample the players’ fitness levels ahead of the Burkina Faso back-to-back 2021 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers.
“A very good game and considering that we are coming from a very long break, we knew it was going to be very tough. But we are happy because we are here to assess the players before we play against Burkina Faso.” he said.
The Flames return from Lusaka tomorrow for their second international friendly against Zimbabwe on Sunday, but the match is still uncertain due to Covid-19 travel regulations.
Zimbabwe Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic had planned to assemble two teams with the core part comprising Europe-based players and a few from the South African and Tanzanian Leagues.
However, most of the players have failed to travel due to Covid-19 restrictions.
His efforts to call more players from South Africa have hit a snag after clubs refused to release them.
According to Fifa rules, the coach was supposed to request the players release at least two weeks before the match.
MALAWI FIRST XI: Munthali (GK) (William Thole), Sanudi, Petro, Chembezi (Peter Cholopi), Sambani , CJ Banda (Micium Mhone), Kaira (Chikoti Chirwa), Phiri Jnr (Chimwemwe Idana), Chester (Chawanangwa Kaonga), Mhango (Hassan Kajoke), Mbulu (Schumacher Kuwali)
Zambia First XI: Sebastian Mwange (GK) , Kondwani Chiboni , Zacharia Chilongoshi, Luka Banda, Benson Sakala , Kelvin Kapumbu, Leonard Mulenga, Chaniza Zulu, Collins Sikombe, Kelvin Kampamba, Emmanuel Chabula .