Flames beaten: Semifinal dream hang by a thread

Malawi National Football Team’s search for their first win at 2021 COSAFA Cup competition in South Africa suffered yet another massive blow as the Flames went down 2-0 to Mozambique at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon.

Flames Coach Meck Mwase made a single change to the side that drew 0-0 with Zimbabwe on Friday by handing first team start to Rafick Namwera in place of Muhammad Sulumba who was dropped to the bench.

It was a lackluster performance from Malawi as they only had one shot at goal in the 28th minute through Schumacher Kuwali who forced Ernan Alberto Siluane into making a save for a corner which had no impact as the Mozambicans cleared the ball away from their area.

At the other end, Ernest Kakhobwe made his first save of the day when he denied Ocozias Emilio Nhaca from scoring.

There was nothing much to write in the half apart from yellow cards incidences that saw Chikoti Chirwa and Kuwali booked by referee Brighton Chimene.

At half time, Taonga Chimodzi replaced Chirwa in midfield for the safety reasons.

It took ten minutes for Mozambique to open their account in a controversial way.

Defender Dennis Chembezi was misjudged by referee Chimene to have handled the ball when he tried to clear the danger away from the penalty box.

Victor Junior stepped up to slot the ball past Kakhobwe, 1-0 before being substituted for Adamo Alifa.

In the 63rd minute, Kuwali was replaced by Micium Mhone.

The Flames were pushing for the equalizer and kept on passing the ball inside the midfield but their decision making in the final third was the weakest point as Khuda Myaba registered no attempt at goal to the disappointment of Mwase’s led technical panel.

Mwase made another change, this time around, introducing Ndaziona Chatsalira for Namwera to try to increase their attacking options.

However, the game was dead and buried in the 68th minute when Francisco Simbine capitalized on a poor decision making from Kakhobwe to head the ball into an empty net to completely dash off Malawi’s hope of making a comeback.

Malawi’s closest chance came in the 78th minute to Myaba who headed over the cross bar after a well taken cross from Mhone.

As Malawi kept on pushing for at least a goal, the Mambas defended jealously to register their first win of the tournament to keep their Knockout qualification dream alive.

As for Malawi, the defeat sees them registering only a point from their two games.

Their next match is against Namibia on Tuesday where a win is a must for them to make it into the last four of the competition.

Namibia head Group B with six points from two games, followed by Mozambique (4 points from 3 games), Senegal (3 from 2), Zimbabwe (2 from 3) and Malawi (1 from 2).