Blantyre — Malawi Under-23 national team on Wednesday lost 0-1 to Zambia in African Cup of Nations Under 23 qualifier at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
However, Under 23 Coach Meke Mwase said the junior Flames still have a chance of making it to the last qualifying round despite the loss.
A late goal from Belgium-based forward, Fashion Sakala in the 76th minute meant Malawi goes into the second leg this Sunday in Lusaka with a goal deficit.
But Mwase was confident of overturning the tables at the hosts' backyard.
"We did not expect to lose because we had a lot of confidence in ourselves. We have put ourselves under pressure.
"But it's not over until it is over. We still have a chance. I think we need to work on the midfield. It had no proper coordination, no proper passes going up front," he said.
Malawi played with Dennis Chembezi, Hadji Wali and Trevor Kalema in defence. Precious Sambani played on the left wing while Isaac Kaliyati on the right.
Captain Chimwemwe Idana partnered Levison Maganizo in central midfield while Hassan Kajoke played as lone striker with Peter Banda and Mike Mkwate as wide attackers.
It was a game of two halves with Malawi dominating in the first-half but wasteful in front of goal.
Kajoke shot wide twice with just the Zambian goalkeeper Mangani Banda to beat after being played by Banda and Kaliyati.
Mkwate was denied in one-on-one situation after an excellent exchange of passes.
Kajoke headed in a Banda corner kick in 25th minute but Angolan referee saw an infringement.
The Zambians took over in the second stanza with Sakala and Austria-based, Patson Daka causing havoc.
Mwase responded by pulling out Mkwate and replaced him with Patrick Phiri. Francis Nkonda was introduced for Maganizo.
In the 73 minute, the Zambians were denied by the post after Sakala beat Malawi defence and unleashed a close range thunderbolt.
He finally found the target in 76th minute heading in from a corner kick.
Malawi kept the scores at 1-0 in added time when defender Kalema cleared off the line Daka's shot.
Munthali, Idana, Chembezi, Wali, Kalema, Maganizo (Nkonda), Sambani, Kaliyati, Banda, Mkwate (Phiri), Kajoke
Mangani Banda, Shemmy Mayembe, Kepson Kamanga, Solomon Sakala, Mosese Nyondo, Boyd Musonda, Kingsly Kangwa, Harrison Chisala, Enock Mwepu, Patson Daka, Fashion Sakala.