And the Malawi football national team conceded two goals without providing any response in their 2- 0 defeat to the Taifa Stars of Tanzania in the 2018 FIFA World Cup first-leg preliminary qualifier on Wednesday at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium.
Without any doubt, the Flames have a mountain to climb if they are to sail through to the next preliminary round when they host Tanzania in the second leg at Kamuzu Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
In the first leg, Malawi lost concentration in defence resulting in two silly goals but Ernest Mtawali’s men were better in the second half as they created some goal scoring opportunities through Manase Chiyesa, Gabadinho Mhango and Isaac Kaliati.
The Flames mentor refused to blame his boys for the defeat but was quick to admit that some of his players were below par especially in the first half.
Mtawali has Chiukepo Msowoya back from a hamstring injury, with Azam Tigers’ Yamikani Chester, Silver Strikers’ Wonder Jeremani and Blue Eagles goal scoring machine Shumaker Kuwali all joining the team on Friday morning.
Upon arriving at Chileka International Airport from Tanzania on Thursday, the former Flames midfielder told reporters that all is not lost for his side.
“We did badly in Tanzania but chances are there to turn the tables around. We will rectify some of our shortfalls we encountered in that defeat so that we can have a very good game on Sunday,” he said.
Scoring more than two goals without conceding any single goal will not be an easy task for the usually goal-shy Flames.
Their opponents have improved tremendously in recent games and will give Malawi a tough ride in front of their home fans.
Before Wednesday’s game, Tanzania almost put Nigeria to the sword during their 2017 Afcon qualifier but lacked finishing composure in front of goal.
Their performance in the first match against the Flames was stellar no wonder they are heading into the second leg on a very high note knowing that a draw will be enough to send them through to the next round.
However, Taifa Stars coach Charles Mkwasa has warned his players not to be complacent in the return leg saying the battle is not yet over.
“It’s not over yet and we need not to relax but take the game to them. We have to score more goals. The mistake we can make is to get complacent,” he told Supersport.
TP Mazembe’s duo of Mbwana Samatta and Thomas Ulimwengu will lead the assault for the visiting team once again, having scored the two goals in the first match.
The winner of this tie will play Algeria in the second preliminary round and the winner from that tie will sail into the final group qualifying stages.
Mtawali is likely to start with Simplex Nthala in goals but he is expected to make some changes in defence, with John Lanjesi and Pilirani Zonda in line to start for the Flames.