Malawi national football team begun life at the Bingu National Stadium disappointingly after surrendering a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Chinese club Guangzhou R&F in a friendly match to mark the opening of the multi-billion kwacha facility.
The Flames, hugely made up of youthful players, led through striker Binwell Katinji, who later scored the second goal before the visitors fought back to pull level with goals from substitutes Xiao Zhi and Zeng Chao.
The good start gave a glimmer of hope that this Flames team could win, but like the previous squads, the local squad most.
Malawi led on the 34th minute when Dalitso Sailesi broke through the right flank before cutting the ball back to Katinji who beat goalkeeper Han Feng.
The Flames doubled the lead in the 63rd minute when Katinji robbed Xiang Baixu of the ball before beating substitute goalkeeper Cheng Yuelei.
When all was seemingly going rosy for the Flames, Guangzhou crept into the match almost mid-way through the second-half after Zhi pulled one back, after prodding the ball in from a cross.
In the 88th minute, a sweeping counter-attack tore apart the hosts’ defence an Chao had all the time to net the equaliser.
Malawi made a couple of substitutions one of which saw Maganizo being replaced by Mphatso Dzongololo, but it seemed to have been a wrong one as the midfield looked disjointed.
It was a relief for coach Dragan Stojkovic who had boasted of teaching Malawi technical football in his press briefing soon after arrival on Thursday.
“They [Malawi] are a good team and they gave us a good run. But we are glad that we managed to save the game. It was a good entertaining game,” said the Serbian.
Gerald Phiri had words of praise for his boys.
“I think we were the better team. We played with composure and purpose and I really I am proud of the boys,” he said.
The Flames started with goalkeeper Lemani Nthala while Stanley Sanudi, Mark Fodya and Chisomo Mpachika and Mike Ntonyo lined up in defence.
Levison Maganizo, Simeon Singa, Isaac Kaliati and Dalitso Sailesi manned the midfield while Yamikani Chester and Katinji led the attacking lines.