Hours before the Flames collected 3 points against Zimbabwe to edge closer to qualifying for their first-ever Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroun, head of technical panel Mario Marian Marinica is reported to have said making it as group leaders or even as runners-up was out of the question.
In the report on Opera News, Marinica blasted the Flames’ critics, saying too much expectation is countering football development in the country.
He is quoted as saying: “So let’s be gentle rather than setting this high target for them. Yes, we want to achieve things but don’t put pressure on unrealistic targets.”
He made the comments before the Flames beat Zimbabwe, who had also lost their opener to Senegal.
However, following the win on Friday, the Flames need to beat Senegal on Tuesday, to garner six points. Senegal has four points and if Guinea, who also have four points, beat Zimbabwe they will top Group B with 7 points, making the Flames as runners-up.
If Zimbabwe beat Guinea, the Flames shall top the group — leaving the second slot to be decided by Senegal and Guinea on goal difference.
Since the tournament has six groups, the last four slots will be filled by third best placed teams.
But in the interview published on Opera News, Marinica had hinted that making it as group leaders or even as runners-up was out of the question.
He is quoted as saying: “I think it would be unrealistic to say we can make it to the knockout stage as Group B winners or runners up. It’s something to have a wish and to have a dream.
“We have to accept that Senegal and Guinea are very good teams with very good squad. If you look at their players they are in top teams like Liverpool who are Champions League winners.”
Opera News said Romanian tactician said this following criticism of the team’s failure to beat Guinea in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals despite creating a horde of scoring opportunities.
Mario stressed that Malawi football is failing to develop due to fans and media’s high expectations of the national team.
He said: “I keep saying that too much expectation is running down football in (sic) the country). Too much expectations lead to bitter disappointment. We don’t need that.”
According to Opera News, Mario — who watched the match on television in his hotel room while in isolation after testing positive for CoVID-19, said fans should appreciate that the depleted Flames squad gave their all in the match.
He said: “People for example don’t know that Dennis Chembezi was vomiting the whole day. He was sick but he still went on to play. Other players were playing out of their positions and they were fantastic.
“We need people to be behind us and be able to see the positive things such as that we have started creating chances; we worked very hard and the team spirit was fantastic.”
The Romanian noted that Malawi players are still young, saying: “We need to help to get to the stage we want them. We need to have patience. We need to nurture them. They are kids. They are still on the learning curve.”
In the match against Guinea, the Flames launched 80 attacks, 20 of them good enough to translate into a goal. They had nine shots on goal, one off target, two blocked and six on target, of which four, were saved by Guinea goalkeeper.
The Flames created a single one-on-one chance when Yamikani Chester shot directly into the palms of the goalkeeper but despite having the upper hand, Malawi still went on to concede a goal in the 36th minute.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :