Mtalawi - Optimistic

Mtalawi – Optimistic

BLANTYRE (FAM)—Coach Ernest Mtawali remains optimistic that the Flames still have a good chance of qualifying for the 2017 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations despite being held to a two-all draw by Swaziland’s Sihlangu last Sunday.

Twice the Flames gave away the lead to earn a point in their second Group L qualifier.

They are third in the group with a single point from two games having lost their opening qualifier against Zimbabwe’s Warriors.

“We should have won this game, we gifted them two goals. The defence could have done better.

“But we will definitely bounce back, there are still 12 points to fight for and I am optimistic that we can still qualify,” said Mtawali.

South Africa-based winger Gerald Phiri Jnr opened the score sheet in the eighth minute when he connected home Robin Nagalande’s cross, but Felix Badenhorst equalised for the hosts six minutes later.

The Chiukepo Msowoya restored the Flames lead in the 22nd minute to into recess with a 2-1 lead.

But Sihlangu stepped up their tempo in the second half and their efforts paid dividends in the 63rd minute through Sifiso Mabila.

Swaziland, who stunned Guinea 2-1 in their opening qualifier away in Conakry are joint leaders with Zimbabwe’s Warriors who were held one-all on the same afternoon by Guinea.

The Flames will date Guinea in back-to-back matches in March next year.