Old habits die hard. The Flames yesterday gave up a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Zimbabwe’s Warriors in a pulsating Cosafa Cup Group B encounter at Isaac Wolfson Stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
In a match monitored on SuperSport Television, Malawi coach Meck Mwase went for a traditional 4-4-2 formation to play it safe and avoid giving space to the Zimbabweans while also giving room for attack.
With Ernest Kakhobwe in goals, the Flames gaffer trusted Denis Chembezi and Nixon Nyasulu in central defence while Stanley Sanudi started as the right back and Mark Fodya played on the left.
Midfielder Vitumbuko Kumwenda was deployed on the left wing position while Schumacher Kuwali played on the other flank.
Chimwemwe Idana started as attacking midfielder while Chikoti Chirwa took up his traditional defending midfielder role. Muhammad Sulumba and Khuda Muyaba played upfront .
The system paid dividends as the Flames closed down the Zimbabweans’ attack and just after the half hour mark, Malawi were in the lead.
Muyaba’s volley in the 26th minute was just too good for Zimbabwe goalkeeper Washington Arubi.
A smart move saw Idana sneaking through the midfield before laying it for Stanley Sanudi who chipped it inside for Muyaba to unleash a thunderbolt inside the goal area.
Kuwali made it 2-0 in the 50th minute, beating an off side trap which the Zimbabweans had laid in vain.
A slick pass from Sulumba let loose Kuwali on the left flank and the Mozambique-based forward raced down with the ball before beating advancing Arubi in Zimbabwe goal.
The two-goal cushion gave Malawi some false hopes that they were home and dry—a mistake they should not have made as the Zimbabweans pulled one back in the 61st minute through Blessings Sarupinda.
Muyaba should have restored parity after a good cross from Kuwali, but he was blocked by Shadreck Nyahwa in the box.
Mwase pulled out Sulumba, Idana and Kuwali for Micium Mhone, Mike Mkwate and Ndaziona Chatsalira in an effort to control the midfield where Malawi was losing the battle.
But the Zimbabweans equalised from an indirect free kick from Patrick Musaka after a little touch from Ovidy Karuru which found Kakhobwe rooted to the ground after a poorly assembled wall went berserk.
Mwase then introduced Zicco Mkanda for Muyaba in an effort to restore Malawi’s lead, but the six times champions stood firm.
In a post-match interview with SuperSport, Mwase blamed his charges for relaxing after going two goals up.
“After scoring the two goals the boys thought maybe we had won the match and relaxed. We made some mistakes and they scored those two goals,” he said.
The Flames next fixture is against Mozambique tomorrow at the same venue.