The Flames missed out on the chance to finish top of group C at the ongoing Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Ethiopia after succumbing to a 2-0 defeat to South Sudan.
Ernest Mtawali made eight changes to the team that beat Djibouti on Wednesday with Richard Chipuwa, Sankhani Mkandawire, Pilirani Zonda, Levison Maganizo, Yamikani Chester, Nelson Kangunje and Isaac Kaliati all being handed their first starts at the tournament.
Five minutes into the match, the South Sudanese opened the score line in style after outplaying Malawi in midfield to make it 1-0.
The Flames upped their game just before the half hour mark to try to find the equaliser but their opponents were smart in defence as they frustrated Mtawali’s boys. Kaonga had his first chance at goal well saved by the Bright Stars’ shot-stopper.
The Flames almost conceded another goal when the South Sudanese caught them napping with a stunning counter attack but were lucky as Chipuwa produced a superb save.
Come second half, the Flames pushed harder in search of an equalizer as Chester, Dalitso Sailesi, Maganizo and Kaliati combined well in midfield but they lacked composure in front of goals.
Kaonga was unfortunate not to find the leveller just few minutes into the half when his thumping header was well saved by the Sudan’s goalkeeper.
At the other end, a 25 metre drive by the South Sudanese lethal striker almost pulled a shocker but Chipuwa was on course to clear the danger away.
The clock was ticking as Malawi pressed harder in search for the much needed goal but the Bright Stars’ defence proved too difficult to unlock.
The South Sudanese then sealed the match with two minutes to play after some counter-attacking football caught the Flames’ defence completely napping and got them the second goal.
The result sees Malawi dropping to second position, a point behind the Bright Stars.