Preview: Zambia vs Malawi

Coach Patrick Mabedi says the Flames owe the nation to do well in Tuesday’s Four Nations Tournament third place play-off against Zambia at Bingu National Stadium following an embarrassing 4-0 loss to Kenya’s Harambee Stars in the semi-final.

The tactician said the player do not need any other motivation to so well, other than that the loss to Kenya was unprecedented and uncalled for at senior team level.

Mabedi said: “we need to bounce back. There is no need for any other motivation than this. The players know themselves. We need to make the people happy.”

For a team that never conceded .ore than two goals since January 2023, Mabedi said he understands Malawians’ frustration on Saturday.

“Well, it is actually disappointing for us to lose in such a way as a national team at that level. And we are a team with a history of good defending.”

He however, said there were good reasons behind the lacklustre performance.

“We need to understand something very important. We tried to change two positions at the centre back. To be honest with you, you will see worldwide when you change the defence you pay the price. And you need to understand our objectives that we want to try other players and we need to think about the future.

“ Just think what will happen if two key centre backs get a red card or may be get injured, where are we going to get another centre back because currently we have few centre backs that are ready—Lawrence Chaziya, Denis Chembezi and Nixon Nyasulu.

“If one of these gets injured, then we don’t have a replacement. So we had to call someone whom we have been monitoring. So Okdina had to come.

“We also have a problem on the right where we have Tatenda Mbalaka, Alick Lungu and Kyran who didn’t make it. So we have a few players in this position so we had to call them and have a look at them.”

Mabedi said the technical panel had to gamble with changing the backline for a good reason.

“We can’t just judge them during training. We need to give an opportunity to see them in a real match. So we tried them and everyone saw what happened.

“So anyone can appreciate that these games gave us a little bit of an eye to who can help the team as time goes. The good thing is we have a team already , but we are trying some other combinations.”

Mabedi said the loss was a lesson to take home as they face Zambia as well as in future.

“For us, its better that we lost in that match because in fact at the end of the day, we had something positive because we had a look at other players, which we may use in the future with these upcoming encounters.

“So we will redeem ourselves and the players know that they are owing. And to be honest, we played well and we gave away the goals. I mean we call it ‘school boy’ mistakes. We never put in effort at the right moment,” he said.

For Zambia tactician Avram Grant, the match is also another learning cave after giving away a two goal lead and losing on post-match penalties to Zimbabwe.

The Israeli said he expects a other tough match against the Flames.

“It’s a game between neighbours. So it will be a tough game,” said Grant.

He said they were not reading much into Malawi’s 4-0 loss to Kenya.

“Malawi played well, if they had scored the penalty who knows what would have happened.”
Grant said they are taking the games seriously and want to win at the same time try new combinations.

“I don’t believe in friendly games too much. You know when you go into the pitch you want to win.

“And we are creating a winning mentality which we showed since last year when we started the World Cup qualification campaign.

“We come into the game whether its a friendly or training game to win. This time its more than just winning.
Grant said he had worked on the shortfalls from the match against Zimbabwe.

“I was very pleased with them in the first game. It was a good game to watch. We were leading 2-0, then we made two mistakes and that cost us. We lost on penalties. Penalties can be here or there.

“Attacking was good. We created chances and scored two goals. In this part we were good. On defence we didn’t defend well. It’s a learning game. We want to learn. The next game against Malawi will be the same. We want to see things that will help us in the future.”


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