Malawi have put themselves under enormous pressure to qualify for Cosafa Cup semi-finals after losing 2-0 to Mozambique in a Group B match on Sunday at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
In a match monitored on DStv’s Supersport channel, the Flames, who blew a chance to start the campaign with a deserved win when they threw away a 2-0 lead to draw with Zimbabwe on Friday, controlled the match with pace and composure, especially in the first half.
But they failed to match their dominance as they let Mozambique make occasional and dangerous raids into their territory.
As early as the fourth minute, Mozambique’s overlapping left-back Danilo Muze made a serious attempt to score, but shot over the bar.
Two minutes later, Malawi reorganised themselves as Mozambique-based Schumacher Kuwali took a long range effort which was parried for a corner kick.
Mozambique goalkeeper Ernesto Siluane was rarely tested as Malawi’s strikers failed to make any meaningful goal attempt.
After a physical, end-to-end action both teams went for recess still searching for a goal.
But Mozambique benefitted from a penalty awarded in the 54th minute after Dennis Chembezi was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box in what seemed a ball to hand scenario.
Victor Junior converted the penalty by sending goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe, who was not impressive, the wrong way.
Mozambique, who played a tactical attacking game, broke the hearts of Malawi when they scored the second goal in the 67th minute from a from a free kick.Poor defending of the set piece left Francis Simbini free to head home the second goal when Kakhobwe was caught off-guard in an aerial combat.
In a post-match interview, the Flames coach Meck Mwase blamed the result on poor officiation by Zimbabwean referee Brighton Chimene.
He said: “Normally, I don’t complain about officiation. When you make such harsh decisions sometimes it gives a wrong impression.”
On prospects in the Senegal game on tomorrow, Mwase said: “We know what lies ahead. We will face them.”
However, Mozambique’s Portuguese coach applauded his charges for putting up a gallant fight.
He said: “It feels great for us. We played wonderful and organised football. We need this performance if we are to go the semi-finals. It was a tactical game beating the first team of Malawi.”
Namibia lead the group with six points from two games, followed by Mozambique with four points from three games, Senegal is third with three points, Zimbabwe fourth with two points and Malawi with a point from two games anchor the table.