Tanzania’s Yahya Ramadhan yesterday provided the perfect tonic to wrap up the Islamic month of Ramadan.
He scored a brace that doused the Flames in the opening game of the 2017 Cosafa Castle Cup at Moruleng Stadium in South Africa.
In a match monitored on SuperSport 9 television channel, the Taifa Stars, who are taking part in the southern African regional showpiece as guests, were two up in under 20 minutes as they swept aside the Flames with contemptuous ease courtesy of Ramadhan’s goal-scoring instincts.
Flames coach Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) blamed his charges for showing their opponents too much respect in the first half.
“We only played in the second half. They [Flames] were not confident enough.
“In the second half, we had some chances, but we couldn’t get the goals. It is a wake up call,” RVG told SuperSport in a post-match interview.
The first goal, which came in the 13th minute, exposed glaring shortcomings in the Flames defence when Elias Maguli broke out on the right and his cross found the unmarked Ramadhan to thunder a rising drive that gave Flames goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe not a prayer.
And barely five minutes later, the Flames were shattered cruelly and clinically through Ramadhan’s cracker.
They were horribly and repeatedly fragile going forward, moving sluggishly to counter the pacy and inventive East Africans.
Malawi came into the second half with renewed purpose with Dalitso Sailesi showing some flashes of individual brilliance, but the currency of football is about scoring goals and as much as they created a plethora of chances, they failed to make them count.
As desperation took its toll, defender Lucky Malata missed from close range after Tanzanian ‘keeper had fumbled Sailesi’s corner kick while Yamikani Chester also shot over the bar.
But Taifa Stars coach Salum Mayanga said their second half performance was by design.
“We started the game cautiously and then we stepped up a gear and made good use of the chances we created. We tried to play with speed and it paid off.
“In the second half, the plan was to sit back and defend because we knew Malawi would come flat out,” he said.
Good start for the guests and plenty of food for thought for RVG and his charges ahead of their next Group A match tomorrow against Mauritius’ Club M.
Flames line-up: Kakhobwe, Stanley Sanudi, Dennis Chembezi (Innocent Bokosi), Francis Mulimbika (C), John Lanjesi, Malata, Chikoti Chirwa, Chester, Sailesi, Semion Singa (Binwell Katinji), Jabulani Linje . n