By Peter Kanjere:
Malawi’s Flames laboured to scorch Comoros 2-1 at Prince Magogo Stadium in Durban, South Africa, Tuesday in a Cosafa Plate semi-final match to date Bafana Bafana in the final.
Malawi Coach, Meke Mwase, stuck to a 4-4-2 formation with goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe, whose blunder cost the Flames a semi-final place of the mainstream cup on Sunday, relegated to the bench in favour of Brighton Munthali.
However, Mwase showed faith in left-back Precious Sambani, whose back-pass Kakhobwe missed, leading to Zambia’s equaliser to take the game into post-match penalties.
The start was promising for the Flames Tuesday. Striker Richard Mbulu headed the Flames in front on the half hour mark, arriving in the box to connect skipper John Banda’s cross.
Comoros, somehow, prevented Malawi from increasing the lead with the islanders’ goalkeeper Fahadi Mohamed making a string of saves to deny Gabadinho Mhango, Gerald Phiri and Mbulu.
In the second half, Malawi lost steam as they resorted to long balls which worked to the advantage of the aggressive and more direct Comoros.
Comoros upped the tempo of their play, breaking Malawi’s rhythm of attack while sending long balls upfront.
Comoros finally got their reward for their hard-work as Elhaddad Hachim deflected his long range volley into the net, with keeper Munthali’s hands outstretched in the 61st minute.
From that moment, the Flames were barely recognisable from the side that entertained fans at the tournament with flowery attacking football.
Mwase reacted by substituting Mbulu and Sambani for Peter Banda and Chawanangwa Kawonga, respectively, whereas Chimwemwe Idana paved the way for Chikoti Chirwa.
Play did not improve due to the Flames’ refusal to put the ball down and build from the back.
Somehow, the Flames found a way, Chirwa rising the highest to scramble into the net a header off Phiri’s right-flank corner kick on the dot of full-time.
This time around, there was no last minute collapse as the Flames held on to the win; a result which pleased Mwase.
“You could see that fatigue was creeping in our team but we said ‘let us push on’. Against South Africa, it would be a different game but the boys would be ready. We will prepare well for South Africa,” Mwase told SuperSport Television 4 in a post-match interview.
Plate section involves losing quarter-finalists of the regional football competition.
The Flames relocated to the section after losing 4-2 to Zambia on post-match penalties after a 2-2 draw in regulation time of the mainstream cup’s quarterfinal on Sunday.
Earlier in the day, Plate Section defending champions South Africa beat Uganda 4-2 on post-match penalties.
Malawi went into Tuesday’s game with a lot to prove as they lost 2-1 to Comoros, coached by Mohamed Abderemane, in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Group B qualifier.
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