The Flames yesterday started their 2016 Cosafa Cup campaign with a perfect response to criticism with a 3-0 victory over youthful Angola’s Negras Palancas at Independence Stadium in Windhoek, Namibia.
A Gabadinho Mhango hat-trick was all Malawi needed to bag full points and joint-lead Group B with Lesotho who beat Mauritius 3-0 earlier in the group’s opener.
The Flames created numerous scoring opportunities but only found the target in the 31st minute when Gabadinho Mhango headed in from a Stanley Sanudi in swing.
But it was the heroics of Isaac Kaliyati that earned Malawi that goal after he kept into play the ball and laid it for Sanudi to cross.
The second half saw the Angolans trying to level the scores but their attack was not good enough to beat composed goalkeeper Charles Swini.
Gabadinho Mhango came back to haunt the Angolans when he exchanged with Rafiq Namwela before tapping in from close range.
The Flames showed so much hunger as they kept on punishing the youthful Angolans forcing them to concede a penalty in the 90th minute which Gabadinho coolly converted to complete a hat-trick.
Now all the Flames need is a win against Lesotho in the next game and a draw in the last group game against Mauritius to finish as Group leaders.
The Flames’ victory owed to a carefully executed game plan. Drawing lessons from the friendly against Namibia when the Flames created chances but failed to find the target, the coach deployed more attacking players.
Notable changes in the first 11 were in midfield where Kaliyati and Gerald Phiri Jnr got the nod ahead of John Banda.
But the coach maintained the spine of the team with Swini in goals, centrebacks Harry Nyirenda and Miracle Gabeya, left back Francis Mlimbika and right back Stanley Sanudi while Chiukepo Msowoya partnered Mhango upfront.
Mtawali said though happy with the win he was worried with missed chances.
“It is always good to win the first game at a tournament, but we need to score more. I thought we could have done better,” he said.