President Lazarus Chakwera has hailed the national football team for coming from behind to beat Zimbabwe 2-1 in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) on Friday.
Zimbabwe scored in 38th minute through Ishmael Wadi, but South Africa-based Frank Gabadinho Mhango equalised five minutes later with a tap-in to offset the deficit
Just 13 minutes after recess, Mhango dinked a shot over on-rushing Zimbabwe goalkeeper Petros Mhari to keep the Flames hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages alive.
“Thank you for maintaining a fighting spirit which is what we stand for. It is the final score that matters, the First Lady and I are delighted to congratulate you. Well done!” said Chakwera through an official release from State House.
Meanwhile, Vice-President Saulos Chilima on Friday night took to tweeter and Facebook to salute the Flames for the victory.
He was particularly impressed with the team’s “new style of play”.
Chilima, himself a sport enthusiast, who used to play basketball during his days at Chancellor College, urged the national team to keep on fighting.
“I particularly like the current style of play that the team seems to have adopted, starting with the Guinea match which we unfortunately lost,” tweeted the Vice-President.
The Veep’s observation has been shared by many Malawians who agree that the team is currently playing with composure and is able to hold the ball while pushing forward.
He said players such as Peter Banda, Yamikani Chester and Fransisco Madinga have been crucial to sustaining the current ‘Samba’ type of play.
The Vice-President concluded his message with a special thank you to the Flames coaching panel for a job well done.
Malawi’s last group match is against Senegal on Tuesday.
All the six group winners and runners-up alongside the four best third-placed teams will qualify for the knockout stage.
“Let’s do this for the Malawi flag that we all love dearly. Once again congratulations, Flames! Osaopa, Osafooka!,” he wrote.
The Ministry of Sports has described Flames victory over Zimbabwe as an “extraordinary performance”.
“The Flames extraordinary performance and their subsequent triumph against Zimbabwe was phenomenal and has brought excitement and happiness to football lovers and Malawians. The Minister of Youth and Sports Ulemu Msungama, management and staff congratulate the Flames for the feat. We wish the Flames more success,” said Principal Secretary Oliver Kumbambe on behalf on the minister.
Msungama, who is also in Bafoussam, Cameroon where the Flames are based, said he visited the boys after the victory to congratulate them.
“We call it coming from behind. Kuipatsa Moto Flames. It’s a great win and it was a great performance too,” he said.
Football Association of Malawi president Walter Nyamilandu was equally delighted and said with God everything is possible.
The FAM president prayed with the players after the victory in the dressing room.
“We thank God for the win. It was an amazing performance. With self belief, we can go far. Thank you Malawians for the support,” he said.
The result on Friday leaves Malawi with three points from two games, one behind Guinea and Senegal and gives them a chance to secure one of the four best third-placed teams.
Malawi will face pre-tournament favourites Senegal on Tuesday and a win for the Flames will guarantee straight qualification to the knock out stage.