Misfiring Flames will return home from the 2021 Cosafa Cup without registering a win after going down 2-1 to West African guests Senegal at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa yesterday.
The Flames, who have finished bottom of Group B with two points, were already out of the competition going into their last match following a 2-2 draw against Zimbabwe, a 2-0 loss to Mozambique and a one-all draw against Namibia.
All what was remaining was for the Flames to salvage some pride in the dead rubber against Senegal.
But the Meck Mwase side left the nation in disbelief as they succumbed to another loss.
In the other Group B match, Mozambique beat Namibia 1-0, but it is Senegal and Namibia who have sailed through to the semis with nine and seven points, in that order.
Striker Khuda Muyaba, who is Malawi’s top scorer at the tournament with two goals, will at least, go back to his Polokwane base in South Africa with a man-of-the-match accolade from yesterday’s game.
Muyaba said he hopes for a better performance in the next tournament.
“Although we did not win a match, we have learned a lot. Next time we hope to do better,” said the striker, who was playing his first-ever Cosafa Cup tournament.
Mwase, on the other hand, downplayed the team’s poor showing, saying the tournament has helped some players improve their game.
“I must thank Cosafa for organising the tournament. It has helped some players to improve,” Mwase told SuperSport in a post-match interview.
“We had a very good tournament although we didn’t win a game. But for sure we were here for other reasons as we are preparing for the World Cup qualifiers.”
In a match monitored on SuperSport television channel, Senegal were on target as early as the 11th minute when overstretched goalkeeper Richard Chimbamba failed to deal with a Serigne Gueye cross from the left and allowed Abou Diop to ghost in from the blind side.
But Polokwane City striker Khuda Muyaba came off the bench to cancel Senegal’s early goal in the 34th minute.
Just minutes into the match after replacing injured Zicco Mkanda, Muyaba tapped in from close range after being set up by another substitute Misheck Seleman who replaced Vitumbiko Kumwenda.
But Malawi conceded in added time when the defence was caught flat-footed and allowed Diop to head home from a long throw-in into the box beating.