Saintfiet suffers defeat in first game as Malawi coach

Belgian Tom Saintfeit lost his first outing as head coach of Malawi national team but saw plenty of positives Saturday as Flames lost to Zimbabwe in the quarter-final of the Cosafa Cup at Lusaka’s Nkoloma Stadium in Zambia after post-match penalties.

Malawi conceded so early in the 14th minute when Zimbabwean skipper Masimba Mambare planted the ball in the net.

Despite trailing, Malawi still had enough quality to dominate possession and created more openings in the opening half.

The Flames were dealt a big blow a minute before the end of the first half when defender James Sangala was given marching orders after picking a second yellow card for a bad tackle.

Head Coach Saintfeit with  coach Patrick Mabedi: Lose in penalties
Head Coach Saintfeit with coach Patrick Mabedi: Lose in penalties

Second half Malawi were a rejuvenated side when Saintfeit introduced Chiukepo Msowoya replacing veteran Fischer Kondowe.

Though playing a player less, Malawi kept pushing with the backing of Zambian supporters who were chanting “Achimwene! Achimwene!”

Douglous Chirambo equalized late into the game – 88th munute – after Msowoya’s spade work.

The Flames forced the game into post-match penalties.

In the penalties Wongani Kaipa first kick was over the bar. Chiukepo Msowoya took the second penalty and made no mistake. The third penalty for Malawi by Gustin Simkonda missed. John Lanjesi’s fourth penalty kick was saved.

Zimbabwe scored in their first and second penalties but Malawi goalie Simplex Nthara scored the third penalty. Zimbabwe scored the fourth penalty to earn the semi-final berth.

“I am very proud with how the boys played in the second half, but am disappointed that we missed 3 penaltie,” said Saintfeit in his post-match interview.

FAM vice president Moses Mkandawire said the Malawi team will be trekking to Kitwe for play-offs of quarter-final losers who will get a slot for a semi-final.

“There is still a chance to qualify,” he said.

Skipper Jose Kamwende said he was “disappointed” but urged Malawians to keep faith in the squad.

Squad: Simplex Nthala, Moses Chavula, Douglas Chirambo, John Lanjesi, Josephy Kamwendo, Young Chimodzi, Fisher Kondowe, Gastin Simkonda, Bongani Kaipa, James Sangala, Jimmy Zakazaka.

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