A stalemate was all it looked like but a miracle happened. Birthday boy Miracle Gabeya scored his first goal for the national team to inspire Malawi to a hard-fought 1-nil victory over Mauritius at the ongoing Cosafa Castle Senior Challenge Cup in Namibia on Tuesday night.
Flames mentor Ernest Mtawali maintained the same squad that mauled Angola on Sunday, with Chiukepo Msowoya partnering Gabadinho Mhango upfront.
However, it was Mauritius who pressed harder in the opening minutes, forcing Charles Swini to make some stunning saves.
Just before the half hour mark, Malawi settled down in the midfield with Joseph Kamwendo, Isaac Kaliyati, and Rafick Namwera combining very well as they tussled hard with their opponents.
Mauritius had another chance through their forward who was released from the left flank of the field only to fire wide of the goal mouth.
Malawi’s Msowoya was having a bad game as he failed to make any attempt at goal.
However, Mhango was the only outstanding player in the half as he had some shots at goal but was very unlucky.
Come second half, it only took Malawi three minutes to find the opening goal through an unlikely source.
A corner by Gerald Phiri Jnr met Gabeya who rose up higher in the sky to head past Mauritius’s shot-stopper, 1-0.
The Flames gained momentum as they played with confident in search for more goals knowing in mind that Lesotho had earlier on recorded a 2-nil victory over Angola.
Kaliyati made a fantastic cross into the box but Msowoya failed to connect well, allowing the hosts to make a clearance.
Mhango had his long range effort blocked by Mauritius before wasting another opportunity from a set piece.
At the other end, Swini was called into action twice to save the situation for the visitors who were under siege after taking the lead.
Gabeya was having his best performance ever for the Flames. His super diving clearance had denied Mauritius from taking the lead in the first half before making some decent tackles as the hosts pressed harder in search for the equalizer in the second half.
With some few minutes to play, Malawi almost sealed the victory through Kaliyati who misjudged Phiri’s free kick into the penalty box.
Yamikani Fodya and Wonder Jeremani were introduced towards the dying minutes of the match as Mtawali opted to defend Malawi’s slender lead.
Mauritus tried their level best to snatch a point from the clash but Malawi held on to record another important victory in the tourney.
The result takes Malawi on level with group leaders Lesotho with six points from two games.
The two teams will play each other on Thursday and the winner will progress to the quarter-finals of the tournament.