Anger, disappointment and frustration marked a bad Saturday for Malawi national football team supporters who demanded the instant dismissal of team head coach Young Chimodzi, accusing him of running short of ideas as his charges were defeated by Zimbabwe 2-1 in their opening Group L qualifier for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations match played at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
The fans were angered with Chimodzi’s questionable substitution of hard-working striker Zicco Mkanda for Esau Kanyenda while leaving on the pitch anonymous Atusaye Nyondo.
Right back John Lanjesi was also pulled out for blunder-prone defender Lucky Malata, who eventually misplaced a pass onto the path of Billiat.
The Mamelodi Sundowns man – whose grandparents were from Malawi – sped clear on the left before stabbing his shot to the top right corner to stun the home fans for a winner even minutes before the end.
Despite going into the game amid financial problems and enduring a bus break-down on Friday afternoon while travelling to Blantyre, it was Zimbabwe that had a dream start.
From the first whistle, the visitors won three consecutive corner kicks. The Warriors eventually got a reward when Cuthbert Malajila made the most of Malawi defender Harry Nyirenda’s blunder to score in the 20th minute but the hosts hit straight back and Davi Banda restored parity a minute later.
The game looked headed for a draw when Billiat produced the moment of the match when he beat McDonald Harawa with a wonderful left-footed shot.
It was a wonderful goal that not only caught Harawa by surprise, but Billiat also looked stunned as well after scoring it.
The angry fans, who converged behind the Kamuzu Stadium VIP second and voiced out their frustration, saying they have lost confidence in the Flames technical panel.
“What is wrong with the players? These are the same players that performed wonders during the just ended Cosafa Cup. Why did the coach remove Lanjesi for Malata who is the natural right back,” quizzed an angry fan clad in national colours.
“Chimodzi he must go,” shouted another man in anger.
Some sections of the supported of hurled insults to the players as their bus left the stadium. And Malawians chanted in praise of Zimbabwe players.
Zimbabwe online media, Zim Eye: poked fun of Malawi, reporting that the Warriors “thumbed Malawi on their grounds.”
It reported: “Zimbabwe romped to victory Saturday afternoon scoring a thunderous 2-1 against the Nyasa dwellers.
“Even though the boys came by a broken bus, their misfortune could not stop them from exhibiting their might as the ‘Original Core Rhodesians, as the two countries were once before The Rhodesia and Nyasaland Federation.”
The future of Flames technical panel is at stake as a 2-1 loss in the hands of the visiting Warriors of has forced Football Association of Malawi (FAM) to hold an emergency meeting on Sunday 14th June 2015.
FAM Chief Executive Officer Suzgo Nyirenda confirmed the meeting, saying Malawians are devastated with the loss to Zimbabwe.
” We never expected to lose this game therefore we are holding an Emergency executive meeting at Chiwembe on Sunday at 8:00am to map the way forward” said Nyirenda adding that the meeting will be centred on the performance of the Flames coaches.
According to the Fam CEO, the future of the coaches will depend on the targets they were given.
Flames coach Young Chimodzi and his Assistant Jack Chamangwana failed the first test they were given by Fam.
FAM gave them a target of winning the Cosafa Cup and earns the Flames African Cup of Nations qualification.
Several Malawians are calling upon for the firing of the entire technical panel and others even made slurs that FAM should hire Malawi Queens coach Peace Chawinga Kalua to translate the netball squad’s success into the football team.
And Chimodzi conceded he made clueless substitutions.
“We thought we were operating as we usually do that is why I made those substitutions,” Chimodzi said.
“We didn’t play as expected and that was bad to us,” said Chimodzi after the match. “We were a bit nervous, we had no patience and that cost us the game.”
Malawi’s next game is against Swaziland who won against 2-1 at home Guinea on Friday and Chimodzi said: “It is very tough now, but we still have to fight to the end”
Zimbabwe coach Kalisto Pasuwa said his team had put all their problems aside to secure a good kick start of their Africa Cup of Nations campaign.
“We need to bring Zimbabwean people together to help improve our football.
We wanted to put our country on the map. We are having problems but let’s consider our country in terms of football,” said Pasuwa.
Zimbabwe team had initially refused to travel, citing concerns that they would not receive their money from the cash-strapped Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa).
Walter Magaya, the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries leader, stepped in to cover the $42,000 needed to cover the trip to Malawi.
Zimbabwe and Swaziland are now tied on three points each on top of Group L. The other teams in the group are Guinea and Swaziland.
Only one team from the group qualifies for the finals to be held in Gabon in January 2017. –Additional reporting by Elijah Phimbi, Nyasa Times
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