Malawi National Football team alias the Flames yesterday recovered from their loss to Cameroon on Friday to beat Mozambique’s Mambas 1-0 and move to position three in the four-team Group D of 2022 Qatar World Cup African qualifiers.
Playing at their home away from home at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, Baroka FC striker Richard Mbulu scored in the 10th minute to revive Malawi’s dream of making it to the World Cup finals for the first time ever.
The Flames are now one point behind pool leaders Ivory Coast and level with the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon while Mozambique anchor the table with a point.
In a match monitored on Fifa Television, coach Meck Mwase made a couple of changes to the side that lost 2-0 to Cameroon in Yaounde, putting in more offensive players.
He named Mighty Wanderers goalkeeper Richard Chipuwa in the starting line-up in place of Nyasa Big Bullets’ Ernest Kakhobwe.
But he maintained the back four of Moldova-based Charles Petro and AmaZulu’s Limbikani Mzava in central defence with Polokwane City’s Dennis Chembezi and Mighty Wanderers’ Stanley Sanudi played as fullbacks.
Another change was the introduction of Frank Gabadinho Mhango of Orlando Pirates who started on the left wing instead of Yamikani Chester.
This set up allowed Peter Banda of Simba FC in Tanzania to play on the right wing while Gerald Phiri Jnr of Baroka FC in South Africa pushed to the central midfield in place of Tawonga Chimodzi, alongside John CJ Banda.
Polokwane City’s Khuda Muyaba also started the match as a twin striker to Baroka FC’s Richard Mbulu.
Such an attack-minded first XI gave Malawi advantage in midfield where Mozambique was overwhelmed.
The defence, which left a lot to be desired in the match against Cameroon, also stabilised in yesterday’s match.
Mbulu gave Malawi the lead in the 10th minute when an under pressure Mozambique defender’s back pass went awfully wrong.
The Mambas defender’s dipping back pass went over his goalkeeper Ernan Siluane, who unable to handle the ball and opted to head it over only for the ball to hit the post, leaving Mbulu with a simple task of heading the rebound into a yawning net.
Siluane was eventually substituted at half-time and replaced by substitute goalkeeper Victor Guambe.
The rest of the game saw the Mambas trying to equalise, while Malawi, in full control of the match, worked to contain the visitors. The Flames kept pushing forward through the wings where Peter Banda and Gabadinho were marvellous.
Gabadinho was just unlucky not to score after snaking through Mozambique defenders only for his shot to be finger-tipped over by Guambe.
Peter almost doubled the lead in the 52nd minute with his long-range shot after breaking on the right wing, forcing the goalkeeper to make a terrific save.
Mwase made four changes in the second half. He brought in Yamikani Chester to replace Mbulu while Chikoti Chirwa came in for Phiri Jnr in the 60th minute.
In the 80th minute, Mwase made another double substitution, introducing Francisco Madinga and Chimwemwe Idana for Mhango and Peter Banda.
Striker Muyaba should have doubled Malawi’s lead in added on time, but his thunderbolt was miraculously saved by Mozambique goalkeeper.
Mwase thanked his charges for the response after losing 2-0 to Cameroon in the opening match.
“It was a good response from the players. We told them to put behind the result in Yaoundé and they did exactly that,” he said.
The Flames will play back-to-back home and away qualifiers against the Ivory Coast in October while Mozambique face Cameroon.
Malawi is using South Africa as home ground after Confederation of African Football banned Bingu National Stadium from hosting international matches due to some shortfalls on the pitch and other facilities.