Flames roast Zebras


Malawi needed a late second half penalty from Gerald Phiri Jnr to progress to the group stages of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers at Kamuzu Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.

It wasn’t a blossoming performance from the Flames in front of thousands of Malawians but Meke Mwase’s men got the much needed result to make into the group stages of the qualifying round at the expense of the Zebras.

Part of the game between Malawi and Botswana

Mwase made no changes to the squad that drew 0-0 in the first leg, with Gabadinho Mhango, Richard Mbulu and Yamikani Chester playing in the attack as the home side looked for an early goal.

The visitors were hit with a massive blow in the opening ten minutes of the match when Mpho Stephen Johane Kgaswane was substituted for Onkabetse Makgantai due to an injury.

Malawi’s first attack of the match was orchestrated by Chester whose low drive cross into the box was missed by both Mhango and Mbulu.

Moments later, the Flames had a glorious opportunity from a free kick when defender Otlogetswe Joel brought down Mhango just some yards away from the box.

The Orlando Pirates man stepped up only to see his drive missing the goal mouth with an inch.

Malawi kept on knocking as the visitors opted for a defensive approach.

The hosts then had another chance when Mbulu was brought down by Francis Thero just closer with Kabelo Dambe’s goal area but Phiri was very unfortunate as his effort hit the upright.

In the second half, there was no proper coordination between Chimwemwe Idana, Phiri Jnr and the striking partnership of Mbulu and Mhango.

The visitors made another change, bringing on board Omaatia Kebatho for Otlogetswe Joel Mogorosi while Malawi brought in Robin Ngalande for the ineffective Mhango.

This change brought some rhythm into Flames’ attack as the attackers pressed harder in search for the opener.

Chester’s penalty appeal was turned down by the Djibouti’an referee while a free kick from Phiri Jnr hit the Zebra’s defensive wall.

With 18 minutes to play, the moment that every Malawian was waiting for arrived.

Mbulu dribbled past the visitors’ defense before being brought down inside the penalty box, leaving the referee with no choice but to point straight on the spot.

Baroka FC’s Phiri Jnr stepped up before slotting past Dambe to send the whole stadium into a frenzy.

Sensing danger, the visitors brought in Lebogang Ditsele for Mogakolodi Lucky Ngele.

Despite the pressure from the visitors, Malawi stood firm to register first win in three matches and progressed into the group stages of the qualifiers.

Last time, Malawi failed to pass this stage as they were knocked out by Tanzania.