For the first time since taking charge of the Malawi national football team last year, Coach Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) on Monday admitted that his possession-based football style might not be working.
“We tried to play football [in Monday’s 1-0 loss to Mauritius] but it was not working for us. But that is how we want to play football,” he told the press as quoted by The Daily Times while rubbing his nose in the press room of Old Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane City, South Africa.
Unfortunately or fortunately, the Belgian is determined to have his charges play the RVG way when they date Botswana today in a Cosafa Castle Cup Group B must-win tie for Malawi at Seshego Stadium in Polokwane.
The bottom-placed Flames must beat the leaders, Botswana’s Zebras, at all cost to stay in contention for a quarter-final berth.
Therefore, a loss will rule the Flames out.
Perhaps RVG can shuffle his pack by starting with Chiukepo Msowoya and Richard Mbulu upfront, John Banda on the left wing and Robin Ngalande on the right.
The Flames have, under the Belgian, lost by small margins suggesting that scoring and not defending might be the bigger challenge for the team. Malawi has scored five times in 13 matches while conceding eight goals.
Botswana lead the group on goal difference as they are at par with Mauritius on three points.
Another win for Botswana would mean that they only need a point in their final group match against Mauritius on Friday to proceed.
Mauritius can also seal their passage with a win over Angola if Botswana fail to beat the Flames.
Angola are third after they lost 2-1 to Botswana on Monday and face Mauritius today in the first Group B match.
RVG admitted that the game against Botswana offers the Flames the chance to redeem themselves and their campaign.
“We are lucky that we will play against Botswana on Wednesday [today]. If we can win that game, then everything is possible. It is now up to us to win,” said the Belgian whose charges wind up the group’s assignments against Angola on Friday.
If they want to win, the Flames should be hoping for a better showing than the one they displayed in Monday’s 1-0 loss to Mauritius.
In that Group B match, the Flames played too many passes, including square ones, in their own half and their attack lacked clear strategy, urgency and decisiveness, allowing Mauritius to win all tackles and aerial duels while playing on the counterattack.
Against Botswana, Malawi need to be strong on the ball against the bigger Zebras such as strikers Kabelo Seakanyeg and Onkabetse Makgantai who scored in their team’s win over Angola.
The Flames usually struggle against Botswana whose Coach is David Bright.
The overall group winner will proceed to the quarter-final alongside Group A’s top team.