By Antony Isaiah Jr
The Malawi National Football Team, the Flames have failed to secure their slot at the finals of the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship after a goalless draw against Mozambique on Sunday afternoon at Zimpeto Stadium in Maputo, Mozambique.
Mario Marinica’s men have been booted out of the tournament on goal difference as Mozambique managed to score a goal in a game that ended 1-all at Bingu Nation Stadium last week.
Mambas captain Stelio Ernesto got the better of right back Sanudi before getting rid of Ndholvu and delivered a precise cross which left advancing forward Divrassone to lunge into the coming ball beating Thom in goals.
But the Flames responded positively and attacking midfielder Chimwemwe Idana launched an attack which resulted in Mhone sending Chester on the loose.
The Wanderers playmaker saw the Mambas goalkeeper anticipating for a cross and did what he never expected, shooting at goal and the ball zoomed on his side to level the scores.
Going into Sunday’s game, the Romanian made three changes to the team that was held at home as he sent two misfiring strikers, Stain Davie and Muhhamad Sulumba to the bench and call in the experienced striker, Chiukepo Msowoya and Blue Eagles’ wing, Schumaker Kuwali.
Goalkeeper, Brighton Munthali returned to the starting Xi as he replaced Charles Thom between the goals.
Mozambique were a better side in the entire 90 minutes but they were very blunt as they failed to utilise several scoring opportunities and they were very solid at the back go deny the flames from finding the back of the net.
Mozambique have qualified for the Chan Finals for the second time as they also booked their tickets in 2014.
It was the repeating of 2019’s journey when Flames saw themselves out of the competition after a 1-all tug at Kamuzu Stadium before playing a barren draw in Eswatini in the return leg.
Malawi’s jinx of failing to qualify for the tournament continues and they should wait for another edition in three years coming.
Flames both uncreative and Goal-shy
The Flames were extremely in need of creativity in the midfield where Yamikani Chester, Micium Mhone, Chikoti Chirwa and Chimwemwe Idana were packed in.
The four midfielders looked to have no confidence on the ball as Mozambique were dominating the game and passed through the middle of the park without an obstacle.
The Flames Strikers Chiukepo Msowoya and Schumaker Kuwali lacked good judgement in terms of positioning and no wonder the manager pulled them all at halftime and brought in Nyasa Big Bullets midfielder, Patrick Mwaungulu and Stain Davie to ignite the attack.
Malawi got the chance in the 34th minute as Yamikani Chester was on the edge of the box with Schumackwe Kuwali in his company but he opted to fire his shot wide, far from the goal.
Stanley Sanudi had a lovely ball into the box but it could not trouble Mozambique’s defenders as there was no green shirt with both Chiukepo Msowoya and Schumacker Kuwali out of their positions.
In the entire game, Malawi managed to register only one shot on target from Moyale Barracks’ captain, Lloyd Njaliwa who came off the bench replacing Chimwemwe Idana. He rifled a hammer shot from 26 yards but the goalkeeper for the Mambas was very attentive and active on his duty as he parried it away denying the 24-year-old dangerous attacker from registering his name on the scoresheet.
Marinica misses the second target
Despite being supported by the Football Association of Malawi financially, Mario Marian Marinica has failed to pay back as he has missed his second target that was included in his contract earlier this year.
Marinica requested for a spying mission of Zambia and Mozambique whose winner of a two-legged African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifier was scheduled to face his charges.
The two teams were in action on during a return match in Lusaka, Zambia, after their first leg encounter ended in a barren draw in Mozambique.
Malawi qualified for the next round without kicking the ball following their opponent Zimbabwe’s disqualification resulting from a Fifa ban.
Marinica described the journey as fruitful as he had knowledge of how the two teams play.
“It is important that we watch the game to have a full analysis of who we will meet in the next round. We need a full analysis of this game,” he said.
The Romanian bought the hearts of the Association bosses when the Flames managed to reach the round of 16 of the delayed African Cup of Nations played this year in January, in Cameroon.
Ironically, Meke Mwase was the in-charge of the Flame’s first three games at the tournament, beating Zimbabwe, drawing to Senegal and lost to Guinea as Marinica took over the helm in the Flames’ Round of 16 game against Algeria that Malawi lost by two goals go one.
Fam handed Marinica the new contract as the head coach for the Flames replacing Meke Mwase and he was tasked to win the Cosafa Cup, Qualify for both Chan and Afcon.
From unforgettable moments in Afcon in January, the Flames have flunked to replicate the performance in its late games.
Marinica and Malawi had poor results at the Cosafa Cup despite being the only team to take the star-studded and old-aged squad as they were booted out in the group stages.
Following a failure in CHAN, Mario has only the African Cup of Nations in his hand to repent his sins if he is to continue with his role as the head coach for the Flames.
The finals of the tournament which started in 2009 will be played in Algeria next year.