The Malawi National Football Team have started the 2022 Hollywoodbets Cosafa Cup with a 2-1 defeat to Lesotho at King Zwelithini Stadium, Durban in South Africa to spoil Malawi’s independence day celebration.
However, before the game, Flames in-stand captain said, “We know the game is on Independence Day which is a very special day for every Malawian. Happy Independence Day. We just have to ensure that we don’t spoil the celebrations.”
“I think now it’s time to win the Cosafa Cup. We are here to compete. This year we just have to grow up, work hard and set our target. Our target is the championship.”
An own goal from experienced defender Sankhani Mkamdawire and Katleho Makateng’s 56th minute strike were enough for the Lesotho National Team to grab the maximum points and start the tournament on a high note.
Despite naming a strong and experienced squad and Line Up which included Amazulu Striker, Gabadinho Mhango, Polokwane’s Khudah Muyaba, UD Songo’s John Banda, Chikoti Chirwa, Sankhani Mkandawire, Stanley Sanudi and Ernest Kakhobwe, Flames failed to reach supporters’ expectations.
Sankhani Mkandawire was given the role to lead the Flames at the back and was paired alongside Blessings Mpokera who plays as a defensive midfielder at Club, Nyasa Big Bullets.
The Flames that is well known as a counter attacking team under the Romanian Manager, were very a improved team, totally from their previous games in terms of possession and pressing dominated the game from the word go.
Flames were the team which nearly came to strike first when Chimwemwe Idana played through Khuda Muyaba who opted to rifle his shot wide in the 7th minute.
Despite dominating the game, Flames looked shaky at the back as Blessings Mpokera and Sankhani Mkandawire were failing to coordinate properly and Lesotho was very dangerous whenever they break at the counterattack.
As Malawi looked like a better team, and more likely to break the deadlock, it was Lesotho who stroke first after kindergarten mistakes from Ernest Kakhobwe, Blessings Mpokera and Sankhani Mkandawire.
Blessings Mpokera failed to clear the cross from Lesotho’s left attacker, Makateng and it landed in the hands of Ernest Kakhobwe who replaced Flames No 1 goalkeeper, Charles Thom who is not part of the squad. The Civo’s shot-stopper fumbled the shot and again Makateng snatched the ball away from him before firing at goal the ball that diverted through Sankhani Mkandawire who was trying to rescue Malawi but it ended up being an own goal just a minute before a quarter-hour mark.
Chimwemwe Idana looked like a very different player from Flame’s previous games, was an integral player who was dictating the midfield and the Flames kept on pressing their opponents.
Flames had a chance the draw the matter level just before the break when Stain Davie won a duel that forced Lesotho’s goalkeeper Sekhoane Morerane to fumble the ball into the feet of Chimwemwe Idana who chipped his effort over the bar unmarked.
Marinica noted his team’s struggles in unlocking Lethoso’s well-organised defence, he wanted to fuel his game and he sacrificed a defensive midfielder, Chikoti Chirwa for Simba’s wonder kid, Peter Banda at the break.
With the introduction of skilled Peter Banda who was named as one of the most dangerous young attackers in Africa by CAF, the tempo and rhythm of the game changed as Flames were able to penetrate through Lesotho’s defence.
Sweeping away Malawi’s hopes of staging a comeback in the game, Lesotho doubled their lead through Makateng who capitalised Stanley Sanudi’s primary school-boy mistake after failing to clear the ball from his penalty area.
Chimwemwe Idana was very influential in the game but unlucky, has a chance to pull one back but his powerful strike was saved by Moreane.
Patrick Mwaungulu and Chiukepo Msowoya were introduced for Stain Davie and Khudah Muyaba in the 78th minute as Marinica was looking for a miracle in the game.
The hit man, Gabadinho Mhango was taken off for Schumacker Kuwali in the late minutes.
With Peter Banda’s efforts, Flames pulled one back through Chiukepo Msowoya who tapped in Peter Banda’s sexy pass in the 88th minute but it was not enough to give Flames a point.
Malawi will face Eswatin on Friday in their next game.
In another group B match, goals from Mkhota, Mamba and Nzanisa were enough to hand Eswatini a vital victory over Mauritius.
Eswatini are leading the Group B table with 3 points on goal difference while Lesotho occupy the second slot.
Marinica’s Flames occupy third place while Mauritius complete the table.