Second half strikes from John Bocco and Israel Patrick Mwenda were enough to hand Tanzania a 2-0 victory over Malawi National Football Team in an international friendly match played at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Without head coach Meck Mwase and his assistant Lovemore Fazili who tested positive to Covid-19 on Friday, Bob Mpinganjira was given the mantle to take charge of the team which had several first team players missing as well due to injuries.
Mpinganjira opted for a 4-4-2 formation, with Khuda Muyaba and Richard Mbulu partnering upfront whilst Brighton Munthali replaced Ernest Kakhobwe in goals for The Flames.
Mpinganjira also handed Kieran Ngwenya his first start after accepting Flames call-up from Scotland where he plays for Arbedeen.
It was a game of few chances and it took 39 minutes for Malawi to create their first chance through a corner which was well cleared by the hosts’ goalkeeper Aishi Manula for a second corner kick which was wasted by Chimwemwe Idana for a goal kick.
In the 42nd minute, Peter Banda set through Mbulu but the striker shot straight at Manula.
Towards the end of the half, Banda had a chance to put the visitors in the lead but his shot from the edge of the penalty box went over the cross bar for a goal kick.
After the recess, the hosts were in total control of the match and gave Malawi a run for their money but twice, within the opening minutes of the half, failed to put the ball into the back of the net when Malawi’s back line was caught napping in the line of duty.
With the Taifa Stars attacking from all cylinders, Mpinganjira made his first substitution in the 54th minute when he introduced Yamikani Chester for the ineffective Muyaba.
In the 56th minute, The Flames were awarded a freekick on the edge of the box following a foul on Idana but Gabadinho Mhango shot over the bar to the disappointment of Mpinganjira’s led technical panel.
The visitors had themselves to blame for failing to find the opener from the series of set pieces closer to Tanzania’ penalty box.
In the 66th minute, The Flames won another freekick after a foul on Mhango but Banda stepped up to drive his weaker shot straight at Manula.
As Malawi kept on squandering their chances, The Taifa Stars rose to the occasion when they opened their account in the 67th minute through Bocco following a back-pass mistake from Rafick Namwera who lost the ball to substitute Dennis Kibu who wasted no time to feed the scorer, 1-0.
On 75th minute, it was 2-0.
The home side won a freekick just closer to the 18-yard box from which substitute Mwenda stepped up to slot past Munthali who could only watch the ball rolling into the back of the net.
The Flames made a double substitution in the 82nd minute when Mhango and Namwera paved the way for Taonga Chimodzi and Vincent Nyangulu as Malawi desperately searched for a goal to reduce the arrears but to no avail.
In the 88th minute, another double substitution was made by Mpinganjira by handing Vitumbiko Kumwenda his first match for The Flames to replace Idana whilst Kakhobwe came in for Munthali.
Despite Malawi’s pressure in the dying minutes, the hosts stood firm to register a 2-0 victory over the visitors who were using the match as part of the preparations for the forthcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon next year.
Malawi had no Limbikani Mzamva, Gerald Phiri Jnr, John Banda and Robin Ngalande whilst Peter Cholopi tested positive to Covid-19.