Flames crash out of Cosafa Cup

Chawanangwa Kawonga and Precious Sambani both missed their spot kicks in the shoot-out as Malawi let a two goal lead slip to bow out of the Cosafa Cup with a 4-2 shoot-out loss to Zambia.

The quarter final match ended 2-2 at the Princess Magogo Stadium on Sunday but it was a bad day in office for Malawi’s goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe who failed to clear a back pass from Sambani to allow Zambia’s Emmanuel Chabula to level the scoreline with a minute to play on the clock.

Flames players celebrating the second goal

The Flames started brightly when they took the lead just after 3 minutes through Gabadinho Mhango from a Gerald Phiri Jnr’s freekick which was frisked into the box by John Banda to allow the former Bullets striker slot past Sebastian Mwange in goals for the Chipolopolo Boys.

Meke Mwase’s men were playing with intent as they continued to enjoy ball possession at the expense of the hosts who looked jittery at the back.

Zambia’s first real opportunity came after 28 minutes when Stanley Sanudi was caught off guard in the line of duty to allow Ernest Mbewe to deliver the ball into the box which landed safely on the foot of Tapson Kasewa whose shot was well saved by Kakhobwe for a throw in.

At the other end, Mhango and Richard Mbulu kept on causing havoc in Zambia’s defense, with Mwange completely looking uncomfortable but he was lucky as his defenders cleared any danger away from his area.

With less than three minutes to play before the interval, Mhango was fouled just 25 yards out of Zambia’s goal area but Banda failed to capitalize as his effort went wide off Mwange’s goal posts.

In the second half, the Flames doubled their lead in a dramatic fashion.

A freekick from Phiri Jnr into the box saw Gift Zulu pulling down Mbulu, leaving referee Lebalang Mokete with no choice but to point straight on the spot.

Phiri Jnr stepped up to send Mwange in the wrong direction, 2-0.

Everything seemed to go in Malawi’s way up until in the 57th minute when Chipolopolo boys pulled one back following a brilliant display of football which saw Sambani failing to stop Webster Muzaza who fed Austin Muwowo before making a clinical finish to beat Kakhobwe into the far left, 1-2.

Mwase brought in Kawonga for Micium Mhone as the Flames looked tired in the middle of the park especially from the right wing.

The Flames made another substitute, bringing on board Peter Banda for Mbulu to increase their attacking prowess against the Zambians.

However, this did not go according to the plan after an injury to Charles Petrol who was then replaced by Dennis Chembezi.

Banda had a shot well saved by Mwange who was slowly gaining his confidence back to keep the Chipolopolo Boys in the game.

With a minute to go, the never ending Flames curse of conceding in the dying minutes came back strongly to haunt Mwase’s men as the Zambians pulled level in unbelievable circumstances.

A back pass from Sambani to Kakhobwe saw the goalkeeper failing to clear the ball away to allow Kaseba to win the challenge before feeding Chabula who scored in an empty net to break the hearts of thousands of Malawians who were vocal throughout the match.

In the shootout, Phiri Jnr and Sanudi scored their penalties but Kawonga and Sambani missed from the spot to allow the Zambians to progress into the semifinals of the competition.

This was the last opportunity for the Flames to win the cup they have never won since its inspection.