Malawi 24

Flames mauled

Morocco returned  to winning ways in style, recording a comprehensive 3-0 home win over Malawi in a one-sided African Cup of Nations qualifier on Saturday at Stade Muhammad V that saw Youssef En-Nesyri score twice.

The visitors’ curse of conceding in the opening and closing stages of the match came back to haunt them again after they were 1-nil down inside the opening 3 minutes, before conceding again with less than 3 minutes to play before the recess.

CASABLANCA, MOROCCO – SEPTEMBER 08: Karim El Ahmadi (R) and Youssef Ait Bennasser (L) of Morocco in action against Gabadinho Mhango (C) of Malawi during 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification Group B soccer match between Morocco and Malawi at Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca, Morocco on September 08, 2018. (Photo by Jalal Morchidi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Using a 4-4-2 formation, the Flames struggled a lot especially in the first half, which saw their defence committing school boys errors to allow Hakim Ziyech to find the back of the net when captain Limbikani Mzava failed to close him down before firing past Charles Swini, 1-0.

Malawi’s attacking option was in disarray and played the entire 45 minutes without even registering a single shot at goal.

After the half hour mark, Younes Belhanda almost doubled Morocco’s tally but his effort was well blocked by Dennis Chembezi.

However, just when Malawi thought the score margin was enough, the Atlas Lions roared again with anger when En-Nesyri fired past Swini from the close range when Mzava and Precious Sambani failed to beat an offside trap, 2-0.

Come second half, Ronny Van Geneudgen brought in Atusaye Nyondo for the ineffective Mbulu but it was the defence which improved tremendously by closing the hosts’ down in all the angles.

But this did not stop the Atlas Lions from unlocking Malawi’s defence and they almost scored their third goal but Ziyech’ effort was well cleared by Sambani.

RVG then made another change, bringing on board Jabulani Linje for Frank Banda but it was Morocco who added another goal following another poor defending from the visitors which saw En-Nesyri controlling the ball before beating Swini into the net, 3-0.

Malawi made their final substitution by introducing Chiukepo Msowoya for Mhango and the former Orlando Pirates forward missed what looked to be Malawi’s only realistic chance when he was found unmarked in the box only to blast his effort over the crossbar with the goalkeeper already beaten and after 90 minutes of play, 3-0 it ended.

The result sees Morocco moving above Malawi into the third position with the same number of points but the north African side has a better goal difference.

Earlier on, Comoros Island and Cameroon played to a 1-all draw which saw the league leaders maintaining their number one status in group B.