Flames interim coach Patrick Mabedi says Guinea’s Syli Nationale gave his charges a good yardstick of the team’s progress in the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations Group D last qualifier which ended in a two-all draw at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.
In a match of two halves, Malawi were much better in the first stanza and got a goal in 22nd minute when Robert Saizi gave the hosts a lead, but gave a way two cheap goals to Guinea soon after recess through Aguibou Camara in 56th minute and Saidou Sow in 58th.
The Flames still managed to avoid a defeat and levelled through centre back Lawrence Chaziya with three minutes on the clock.
Mabedi made a few changes to the squad which he was using at 2023 COSAFA CUP.
He maintained the bulk of the first XI namely goalkeeper Brighton Munthali, defenders Stanley Sanudi, Chaziya and Dennis Chembezi; wingers Saizi and Lanjesi Nkhoma, holding midfilder Lloyd Aron and striker Chawanangwa Kaonga.
Captain John CJ Banda, Richard Mbulu and debutant Tatenda M’balaka were the only players in the first XI that were not at the COSAFA Cup.
The coach was forced to make a half-time substitution by introducing Clever Nkungula after Munthali collided with a Guinea striker while making a save.
He also made more substitutions deep in the second half when he brought in Christopher Kumwembe and Wisdom Mpinganjira in the 68th minute who replaced Nkhoma and Mbulu.
He also took out debutant Tatenda M’balaka and replaced him with Francisco Madinga while Peter Banda came in for injured Lloyd Aaron.
In post match interview Mabedi admitted that things did not work according to plan as the team lacked cohesion.
“Let’s be honest, we never came to the party. We failed to manage the game and we lost possession needlessly.
“We were trying to give experience to the juniors but there coordination was not good,” Mabedi explained.
The former Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach admitted that the team failed to utilise chances in the first half, faltered in the second, and were lucky to get away with a draw against highly-rated Guinea.
He said: “We could have finished the game in the first half but we’re wasteful.
“Our expectations were higher, but we need to understand this is a professional team”
Mabedi, however, said the match was a good learning curve for the up and coming players.
“But it was a good test playing against such a good team,” he said.
He counterpart Kaba Dawara applauded his charges for coming back into the game after half time but said Malawi were determined to avoid defeat at home.
He said: “It was a difficult game and we knew that. Just before the game, I told the players that we have to fight.
“After we were down 1-0, we failed to react. But at the half time I talked to the boys and made some changes.
“The response was good and we came back into the game.”
The result means Malawi has finished third with five points.
Egypt are Group D winners with 15 points while Guinea are second with 10 points.
Ethiopia are at the bottom with four points.