Mozambique last evening scored a late equaliser to spoil Malawi national football team’s party at Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) tournament in Durban, South Africa.
The match, monitored on SuperSport channel on digital satellite television, lived up to its billing as Mozambique came with guns blazing to salvage some pride after losing 2-1 to Namibia and earning a goalless draw against Seychelles.
Yesterday, both sides made intent to get the better of the other in the first 15 minutes with Mozambique on the rampage.
But Malawi, who made nine changes to the first X1, proved their character and composure by slowing them down, especially with Mike Mkwate’s brilliance in the central midfield.
Goalkeeper Brighton Munthali was also alert and commanded the goal posts with agility.
He kept the Mambas at bay, especially in the 14th minute when he tamed a shot from Witness Chimoio Quembo.
Quembo also tormented the Flames defence and nearly scored in the 27rd minute, but the disciplined Malawi backline put the situation under control.
The moment that the Flames had waited came in the 33rd minute when Gerald Phiri Jnr’s well-taken corner kick was fumbled by goalkeeper Jose Ventura Gui for Hassan Kajoke to pounce and hand Malawi the lead.
Youngster Peter Banda, who has graduated from the Under-17, did not disappoint.
He complemented the effort of Mkwate, Phiri Jnr and Chikoti Chirwa to contain Mozambique.
The game burst into life in the second half with Malawi slowly succumbing to the Mambas’ attack as fatigue started taking its toll on the Flames.
Joao Pedro Mussica came close to equalising in the 61st minute when his powerful header from a Quembo cross went marginally wide with the goalkeeper caught off guard.
Caretaker coach Meke Mwase substituted Mkwate for stand-in captain Christopher John Banda (CJ) in the 75th minute after injured Gomegzani Chirwa paved the way for Stanley Sanudi in the first half.
Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango was also introduced for Peter Banda towards the end.
But the Flames’s bid to finish the Group with another win was dealt a big blow when Mozambique equalised in the 90th minute following a corner kick.
Mussica, who was lurking in the penalty box, connected home to remind the Flames of their inability to contain pressure.
For the third consecutive game, Malawi also produced man of the match with Phiri Jnr getting the accolade. Mhango got the award in the Seychelles game while CJ Banda got it in the Namibia game
Speaking to Supersport after the match, Phiri Jnr, who captained the team before CJ Banda came in, commended the performance of the players.
“It was very important for us as the coach made some changes. Everyone here can play. It does not matter if the coach changes,” he said.
Mwase said the change was necessary ahead of the quarter-finals match against Zambia on Sunday.
“There were changes because we knew that we have an important game against Zambia in the quarter-finals.
“I would like to thank the boys. We wanted to finish with a win, but things did not work our way Mozambique gave us pressure maybe that’s why we conceded that goal,” he said.
Mozambique coach Abel Xavi said the draw was a true reflection of the match having dominated the second half.
“I am proud of my players with this kind of performance. “We should respect Malawi they have quality [players]
,” said the former Portuguese player.
Malawi, who already qualified for the quarter-finals, have finished the top of the group with seven points.
In another Group B game, Namibia beat Seychelles 3-0 to finish as runners-up with six points.