Malawi interim coach Patrick Mabedi says his Flames did not live up to expectations when they wrapped up the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group D qualifying campaign with a two-all draw against Guinea on Saturday.
Mabedi spoke about the Flames’ performance in a post-match interview at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe where the hosts needed defender Lawrence Chaziya’s late goal to salvage the point.
“Let us be honest, we never came to the party. Our expectation was a little bit higher,” Mabedi said.
“We were supposed to manage the game better. We never kept a lot of possession and we were giving the ball away many times.”
Winger Robert Saizi gave the Flames a 23rd minute lead via a low volley, but the already qualified visitors, who came to Lilongwe to play for mere pride, pulled themselves back into the contest with two goals inside two minutes from Agoibou Camara (56th minute) and Saidou Soy (58th minute).
Chaziya’s bouncing header after connecting a corner-kick rescued a point for Mabedi who remains unbeaten in eight games in charge in all competitions.
FLAMES FINISH THIRD
The former Flames skipper, however, said there were a lot of positives from the dead-rubber.
“We also need to understand that this [Guinea] is a good team. They are professional players and we are in the process of building [a new team],” he said.
The coach bemoaned the injury of first-choice goalkeeper Brighton Munthali in the second half of the match, saying his absence affected the Flames.
“The injury of our keeper also gave us a setback, but so far we are in a learning process. We need to be happy that we finished on a high. We never lost. We have learnt. Football is a game of learning.”
The Flames finished the campaign in third place with five points, one point ahead of bottom-placed Ethiopia who lost away 1-0 to already qualified group leaders Egypt on Friday.
Egypt and Guinea booked their places at the delayed Afcon finals scheduled for Ivory Coast next year whereas Malawi and Ethiopia failed to make it.