The Malawi National Football Team wasted lots of goal scoring opportunities in their 1-0 defeat to Guinea in their Group B Africa Cup of Nations opening match at Kauekong Stadium in Bafoussam City on Monday evening.
Severely missing the services of Gabadinho Mhango, Robin Ngalande, Stainley Sanudi, Charles Petro and Chikoti Chirwa, the Flames had countless chances throughout the 90 minutes and lack of clinical finishing cost Marian Mario Marinica’s side.
In the Malawi goal, keeper Ernest Kakhobwe was reduced to a virtual spectator for much of the encounter against the National Elephants who were saved by the heroic performance of their shot-stopper Ally Keita.
Keita produced a fantastic save in the 7th minute to deny Micium Mhone from scoring.
Moments later, Malawi had another chance through a freekick which was played by Francisco Madinga but the ball went straight into Keita’s hands.
The Flames were the better side and should have taken a lead in the 15th minute when Ibrahima Conte lost possession in his own half to Chester who did everything right to find himself in a one on one situation but he lacked the finishing composure as his shot went straight at Keita.
As if that was not enough, the Mighty Wanderers winger was also found in a one on one situation again but this time around, he slipped down to allow Conte to recover the ball away from him.
Malawi’s failure to convert those chances into goals nearly punished them as Conte’s powerful header from a corner kick came off the woodwork to the relief of Meck Mwase’s led technical panel.
The hosts were now slowly settling down and they had another chance from a freekick awarded in the dangerous position from 25 metres out.
Mohamed Bayo took the set piece and sent the ball straight at Kakhobwe.
But the National Elephants couldn’t be denied further as they broke the deadlock in the 35th minute in a brilliant fashion.
Bayo dribbled past Gomezgani Chirwa before sending a dangerous low cross pass into the box to Issiaga Sylla who was unmarked and made no mistake by slotting the ball past defenseless Kakhobwe into the net, 1-0.
Their celebration nearly ended prematurely in the 38th minute when Limbikani Mzava released a thunderous shot outside the penalty box to force Keita into making another brilliant save for a corner kick which had no impact as the hosts cleared the danger away from their area.
Peter Banda was left in total disbelief in the 42nd minute when his well curved shot was once again well saved by Keita, who by far, kept his side in the game with range of brilliant saves throughout the half.
At the other end, Kakhobwe produced a double save to deny Martinez Jose Kante from scoring and that was all for the half.
After the recess, Ibrahima Cisse came in for Aguibuo Camara for the hosts who were now looking forward to more goals and possibly defend their slender lead.
Five minutes into the half, Mhone had a penalty shout turned down by Ghanaian referee Daniel Ni Laryea.
Fifty-one minutes into the match, Mamadou Kane’s shot from a corner kick missed Kakhobwe’s left goal post with an inch.
Khuda Myaba failed to cause any havoc in Guinea’s defence as Malawi’s supply lines failed to unlock the hosts’ defence.
Guinea should have doubled their lead in the 63rd minute when Bayo’s goal bound tap in inside the six-yard box was deflected for a corner by Mzava.
Mwase had to introduce Richard Mbulu for Chester who limped off following an injury he sustained earlier in the half.
Mbulu almost made an immediate impact when he released Madinga into the box but the midfielder’ weaker shot was easily saved by Keita.
Mamadou Diallo and Ousmane Kante came in for Kante and Saidou Sow in the 71st minute whilst Zebron Kalima replaced Peter Banda in the 79th minute.
Guinea almost put the game beyond Malawi’s reach in the 85th minute when Bayo created space on the edge of the penalty box but his shot was blocked by John Banda.
Despite creating numerous chances, Malawi were left frustrated as Guinea escaped unhurt to correct three points going into match day two in which they will face Senegal, who earlier on, defeated Zimbabwe with a similar margin whilst Malawi will face their fellow Southern African nation.