Burkina Faso asserted themselves as Group B overlords when they registered a 3-1 victory over Malawi in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers at Stade du 4 Août stadium in Ouagadougou on Thursday night.
Flames coach made two changes to the side that played to a goalless draw to Zimbabwe in an international friendly match last month, with Brighton Munthali and Richard Mbulu all coming in for Ernest Kakhobwe and Gabadinho Mhango who missed the trip due to an injury.
It only took 2 minutes for the Stallions to find their opening goal through Ajax Amsterdam forward Frank Lassina Traore.
The visitors’ closest chance in the half came after 18 minutes when Schumacher Kuwali’s well taken freekick outside the penalty box forced Babayore Sawadogo into making a fine fingertip save for a corner which they defended jealously to frustrate the Southern African side.
Lassina Traore doubled his tally with a beautiful goal when he found himself at the end of a fine cross from Issa Kaore who outsmarted Precious Sambani on the left, 2-0.
The visitors were guilty of playing too deep with too many unnecessary back passes and ended up inviting pressure from the hosts.
Despite being outplayed, Mwase’s charges had their fair share of chances when Stainley Sanudi made a good run on the right and delivered a million dollar cross into the box to Chimwemwe Idana who shot straight at Sawadogo.
Mwase wasted no time by making a double substitution on 45th minute by introducing Rafiq Namwera and Micium Mhone for Idana and Kuwali respectively.
After the recess, Malawi should have pulled one back through Mbulu who was found unmarked in the box by Namwera but the Baroka FC forward sent his weaker shot straight at Sawadogo to keep the scores at 2-0.
At the other end, Munthali was forced into action when he produced a fantastic save to deny Cyrille Bayala from scoring the host’s third goal of the day.
Moments later, it was Malawi’s turn to attack and they almost scored when Mhone dispossessed the Stallions’s defender before setting up Chikoti Chirwa who lost his balance and failed to take a perfect shot as his weaker effort was easily picked by Sawadogo.
The Flames then had another chance from a freekick which was blasted over the bar by Richard Mbulu outside the penalty box.
On 61st minute, the hosts were awarded a penalty when Peter Cholopo brought down Lassina Traore but the forward failed to score his third goal when he blasted his penalty kick over the cross bar to the relief of the visiting side.
Mwase made another double change by replacing Yamikani Chester and Chirwa with Gerald Phiri Jnr and Duncain Nyoni.
Munthali was at it again, this time around, producing another top save to deny Lassina Traore when the forward broke though on the left where Sambani was operating.
The visitors were given an opportunity to reduce the arrears in the 80th minute from the spot following a handball. Phiri Jnr stepped up to score past Sawadogo, 2-1.
As Malawi had their sights on leveling the scoreline, the hosts were awarded another penalty in the 87th minute from which Bryn Dabo stepped up to smash the ball past Munthali into the top corner, 3-1.
And speaking in the post-match interview, Mwase said playing away from home wasn’t easy for his men.
“Playing away wasn’t easy, it was a tough game. The boys tried their level best but we lost. We had chances but we couldn’t capitalize though we scored a goal. They were awarded a penalty which wasn’t legit but that’s what happens when you play away from home,” he told FAM media.
On conceding an early goal, he said: “We emphasized this because it has been our problem of conceding early and it disturbs our plans but that’s football anyway,” he continued.
With all the goals originating from the left, Mwase admitted that having few left backs in the country is proving costly to his team and there is a need to fix the problem once and for all.
“We have very few players who can play as left backs. There was no communication between our left back and the winger and it proved costly by the end of the match.
“We have to go flat out at home. We must win this game at all cost and I will tell the boys to up their game. We have to win on Monday,” he concluded.
The result means the Stallions are level on points with Uganda on 7 points whilst Malawi are third with three points with South Sudan anchoring the group with no point.
The Flames will host the Stallions at Kamuzu Stadium on Monday for the return leg.
A win for Mwase’s charges will be a must if they are to keep their qualification chances alive.