Malawi National Football Team reached a new low Wednesday after failing to get a win in four Cosafa Cup matches in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
The Flames lost 2-1 to guest nation Senegal at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, meaning that the West Africans also qualified to the semifinals of the Cosafa Cup as Group B leaders with nine points.
Mozambique eliminated Namibia following a 1-0 win at Isaac Wolfson Stadium to qualify for the semifinals as Group B runners-up with seven points.
In the five-team group, Malawi finished on fourth position with two points whereas Zimbabwe, who have the same number of points, finished bottom of the group.
During the four games, Flames conceded seven goals, scoring four times.
Despite the team’s lacklustre performance, Flames coach Meck Mwase said there were lessons learnt from the tournament.
“We played a good game but it is unfortunate that we conceded a goal in the dying minutes of the match. Some players have proved their worth, which is giving us hope,” Mwase said.
Mwase assembled a squad comprising experienced and up-and-coming players but the performance was awful in all the four games.
The Flames started the tournament with a 2-2 draw against Zimbabwe before suffering a 2-0 loss to Mozambique.
Then came the 1-1 draw against Namibia which confirmed their elimination from the competition before a 2-1 loss to Senegal Wednesday.
Malawi’s only consolation during the competition was that two players won man-of-the-match awards.
Micium Mhone won the award in a 1-1 stalemate with Namibia before Khuda Muyaba achieved the same feat against Senegal.
In a match monitored on SuperSport, the Flames succumbed to an Abou Diop late winner, who got to the end of a free kick beating goalkeeper Richard Chimbamba at the dot of full time.
Diop had given Senegal the lead after 11 minutes but Muyaba equalised for Malawi from close range before the break.
Mwase made several changes to the starting lineup that played against Namibia on Tuesday.
Chimbamba and defender Eric Kaonga made their Flames debut. In defence, Mwase started with Stanley Sanudi, Nickson Mwase, Dennis Chembezi and Kaonga whereas Tawonga Chimodzi, Mike Mkwate, Vitumbiko Kumwenda and Mhone started in midfield.
Maxwell Phodo and Zicco Mkanda started upfront.
Sports analyst George Chiusiwa said it was a terrible experience for the Flames.
“Overall, therefore, there have been some positives that may be drawn from the tourney considering that different player combinations were tried by the coach in order to enhance the technical depth in the team ahead of Fifa World Cup assignments and the Afcon finals in Cameroon.
“It is also important to note that some of the players lack mental and tactical maturity and need more time to cement their places in the team. This can only be possible if they are featured in more friendly games,” Chiusiwa said.