Botswana held by Malawi as hosts struggle in World Cup

Botswana were held 0-0 by Malawi Saturday as home sides continued to struggle in 2022 World Cup first round first leg qualifiers across Africa.

Only three of the 14 matches from Wednesday produced home victories while five hosts drew and six lost. The return matches are scheduled for Sunday and Tuesday.

It was a disappointing start for new Botswana coach, Algeria-born Adel Amrouche, who was told by officials when hired last month to "do well" in the World Cup.

The match marked the official debut of Meck Mwase in charge of Malawi after being caretaker coach since the sacking of Belgian Ronny van Geneugden.

Both sides were deprived by the woodwork during the second half with a free kick from Malawian Gerald Phiri rattling the post on 57 minutes.

Botswana came closest to snapping the stalemate in stoppage time when an Onkabetse Makgantai header rebounded off the crossbar.

The teams meet again on Tuesday in Blantyre with the aggregate winners joining 39 other nations in the second round, which will comprise 10 groups and begin in March.

Five places have been reserved for Africa at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the last to feature 32 teams before being increased to 48.

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