Flames’ international striker Frank Gabadinho Mhango became the country’s first player to score a Hat-trick in the COSAFA Castle Cup tournament when he inspired the team to a 3-0 victory over Angola in a game played on Sunday in Namibia.
The experienced Flames overcame the young and inexperienced Angolans at Independence Stadium in Windhoek to claim their first three points from their first game in Group B.
Palancas Negras were the favorites to win Group B, but they failed to contain the Flames who miserably lost 3-0 to Zimbabwe Warriors in Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers last weekend in Harare.
The win saw Flames equal Lesotho on points and goal difference. Lesotho claimed their biggest ever victory in the COSAFA Castle Cup as they defeated Mauritius 3-0.
BidVest Wits-bound striker Mhango Mhango becomes not only the first Malawi player to net a hat-trick in the COSAFA Castle Cup, but the first player to get more than one goal for them in a game.
He could have had more too as Angola played a largely Under-20 team and even had a 15-year-old goalkeeper in Eduardo Joao Bunga.
But the forward, who will join Wits for next season after signing a pre-contract in January, looked lively and used his pace to great effect.
Gerald Phiri Junior, who spent last season at Wits, also started for Malawi, as did Black Leopards defender Harry Nyirenda, and former Orlando Pirates midfielder Josephy Kamwendo.
Angola beat Malawi once 3-2 in the 2013 COSAFA Cup Plate semifinal encounter at the Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe, Zambia.
Palancas Negras are making their return to the regional tournament after failing to compete at all last year in South Africa. The three-time COSAFA champions were thrashed 3-1 by a spirited Central African Republic (CAR) side away over the weekend.
Malawi have reached the COSAFA Cup final twice. They reached the 2002 and 2003 finals, but they were beaten by South Africa and Zimbabwe respectively.
The Flames did beat past winners Angola and Zambia on their way to the final in 2002 and the next year disposed of Zambia again on penalties in the semifinals.