When the nation was pregnant with expectations of the impossible to happen, the Flames have done the obvious, losing the only the game that would have changed the team’s course of destiny- at least in this year’s COSAFA Castle Cup tournament.
The Flames hobbled to a 1-0 defeat against COSAFA Castle Cup Group B leaders, Lesotho in a game played at Sam Nujoma Stadium in Namibia.
Malawi needed to win the game by all means to progress to the quarter-finals of the tournament, but just as old script reads, the team felled in the last minutes of the game to concede not only the goal of the match but their first one in the tournament.
With all ball possessions, Malawi failed to convert the statistics into meaningful opportunities to clinch a win against a team that last beat them 37 years ago-in an international friendly match.
The only clearly goal opportunities for Flames came in the first five minutes of the match when Gerald Phiri Junior forced Lesotho goalkeeper into consecutive saves; despite that, nothing worth praising came out of the team until 40th minute when the coach made the expected change, replacing the under-performing Chiukepo Msowoya with Muhammad Sulumba.
Sulumba managed to influence the game’s proceedings in the Flames’ favor with his clever twists and turns, but nothing yielded into goals.
It was in the 84th minute when Lesotho, who only needed a draw to qualify for quarter-finals, scored the goal that changed the course of destiny for the under-par Flames. Lesotho made it nine points out of three games without conceding a goal.
In an interview after the game, coach Earnest Mtawali conceded his charges were below average to steer the game into their favor.
“We didn’t start well. In the first half we kept on losing balls easily; we had an apprehension,” said Mtawali.
Sounding confident, Mtawali casted his hopes to the future, believing he will be in charge of the team in the next COSAFA Castle Cup tournament.
Mtawali started the game with unchanged selection. He placed his faith in the first 11 that beat Angola and Mauritius.
Flames were second in the Group B tied at six points with Lesotho who had a goal superior.
The result means that the Flames have also failed to qualify for the Plate Division of the Cup which features losers in the quarter finals.