…RVG says it’s work in progress….
In a match where clear-cut chances were missed by Gabadinho Mhango and Chiukepo Msowoya, Malawi saw their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification dream slowly fading following a goalless draw at home to Cameroon on Tuesday afternoon.
Ronny Van Geneugden made two changes to the squad that lost 1-0 to the Indomitable Lions in the first leg, bringing on board Msowoya and Levison Maganizo for Richard Mbulu and Jabulani Linje.
The hosts started the match on a very high note, with John Banda troubling Cameroon’s defence like nobody’s business.
However, Malawi’s never ending goal scoring problems continued again as Mhango and his striking partner missed two sitters with the goalkeeper already beaten.
At the other end, the visitors created their first goal scoring opportunity when Yaya Banana made a fantastic run at the far side of the field only to be denied by John Lanjesi.
Moments later, Mhango was found unmarked in Cameroonian’s territory and the former Nyasa Big Bullets forward dropped a loose ball into the box which was met by Yamikani Chester who fired straight at Joseph Ebogo but Mhango failed to score from the rebound with the goalkeeper already beaten.
Malawi were pressing hard in search of the much needed goal and Banda’s goal-bound effort was blocked inside Cameroon’s box with Ebogo well beaten.
The visitors should have taken a lead just minutes before the interval when Precious Sambani was caught napping in the line of duty, allowing Banana to make a run before sending a low drive cross into the box from which Chirwa made a fantastic stop to frustrate the defending AFCON champions.
Come second half, the Cameroonians started on a high note, making some beautiful passes but to unlock Malawi’s defence proved too difficult.
RVG was forced to take out Chirwa for Alfred Manyozo Jnr due to an ankle injury he sustained in the first half.
Mhango was having a tough afternoon as he kept on losing possession and ended up earning a yellow card following a confrontation with Ebogo.
Cameroon then brought in Kunde Mabong Pierre, Karl Brilliant Ekambi and Andre Franck Anguissa for Banana, Diederrick Joel Tagueu and Joyskim Tchakonte.
Pierre’s introduction gave Cameroon an edge in the midfield as he terrorized Malawians with no mercy but to pass through Lanjesi led defence proved to be very difficult.
Msowoya should have scored when he was found unmarked by Chester but his effort hit the side-netting.
Patrick Phiri and Richard Mbulu were brought in for Chester and Levison Maganizo as the hosts were desperate to find the much needed goal.
Phiri almost scored from a close range when he was set through by Mbulu only to see his effort well blocked Fai Collins Ngoran Fai.
Moments later, Mhango, in quick succession blasted his two efforts over the cross bar.
Malawi’s penalty shout was turned down by referee Victor Gomez who rescinded his earlier decision for an offside call. With less than five minutes to play, Malawi almost conceded.
Cholopi failed to clear a long ball from Georges Constant which gave Zoua Diagari Jacques all the opportunity in the world to score but his shot was well saved by Charles Swini.
The momentum was with Malawi in the closing stages of the encounter, but they continued to waste their goalscoring opportunities and after 90 minutes of play, 0-0 it ended.
And in a post-match interview, RVG bemoaned the missed chances but he was quick to heap praise on his boys for a spirited performance against the defending AFCON champions.
“It’s always difficult to play against strong opponents but my boys were good today and we were very unlucky not to find the back of the net.
“I am very impressed with the performance especially in the first half where we had some clear cut chances. Like I said earlier on, this is work in progress and I am very certain that the team will continue performing the way we did today,” said RVG.
Malawi are still third in Group B with four points from four games.
In another match, Comoros Island and Morocco played out to a 2-all draw in Comoros.
Cameroon lead the group with 8 points, with Morocco coming second with 7 points.
Malawi will play Comoros Island and Morocco in their remaining two qualification games.