Malawi national football team defender Harry Nyirenda is optimistic that the Flames can qualify for the group qualifying round of Africa Cup of Nations despite losing 1-0 to Benin on Sunday.
Malawi conceded the goal in the 19th minute scored by West Albion professional midfielder Stephane Sessegnon but managed to keep the hosts from scoring more goals in the first leg played in Cotonou.
Nyirenda told Nyasa Times in an interview that Benin were not a threat to the Flames’s bid to progress to the next round of the competition.
The former Blue Eagles and Mighty Wanderers defender, playing professional football for South Africa’s Black Leopards, also claimed that the goal was scored from an offside position.
“The referee gave them the goal and we will beat them at home by God’s Grace,” Nyirenda said in an email response.
“They crossed the ball from our left and the goalkeeper was late to charge. The guy, who headed the ball first, was on offside position. He headed it hit the post and Sessegnon who was also on offiside position finished it off to score.”
He insisted that despite featuring eight professionals the team was no better than some of the Flames’s previous toughest opposition such as Burkina Faso, Guinea, DRC Egypt, Tunisia.
“We will beat them at home to qualify. You can’t compare them with us,” he said.
Leader of delegation Pikao Ngalamila, who is also Second Vice-President of Football Association of Malawi (FAM) backed Nyirenda saying the Flames could have scored at least three goals.
“In my considered opinion it was very tactical with very few openings. Benin found it difficult to penetrate Malawi’s half. We could not take any of the three clear chances we had but the boys played with dutiful commitment,” Ngalamila told Nyasa Times in an email.
He also said Benin were not a good side despite featuring eight professionals in the game.
“I was expecting better than I saw on the pitch from Benin given that they had players such as Sessegnon who was very ordinary.
“We could have nicked in a goal or two and I am sure we could turn the tables in the return leg.”
He said the goal they scored was from an offside position.
“The goal was in my opinion from a clear offside position but as they say they all count.”
Malawi team is expected to leave Benin on Tuesday and arrive home on Wednesday.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :