Malawi National Football Team’s fate is not in their hands as they will wait for other groups matches to confirm their position at the ongoing TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Cameroon.
The Flames displayed a solid performance as they held number one ranked team in Africa Senegal to a goal-less draw in a Group B match at the Stade Omnisports de Bafoussam last night.
Following the draw, the Flames finished third in Group B with four points, just one point behind Senegal and at par with second-placed Guinea.
Senegal qualified for the knockout stage as Group B winners whereas Guinea, who lost to Zimbabwe 2-1, also made it into the round of 16 as runners-up.
The Flames can still qualify as one of the third-best placed teams but have to wait for results from other groups.
Two teams from each group will advance to the knockout stage of the competition.
Some contenders for the third placed teams include Tunisia, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea and defending champions Algeria.
Other contenders for the round of 16 slot, Ghana, were also in action against Comoros Islands as we went to press last night.
However, the point against Senegal was vital for the 129-ranked Flames, who defied all odds to stop the number one rated team in Africa.
The Flames matched Senegal in most departments throughout the match.
Interim coach Marian Mario Marinica made three changes to the side that defeated Zimbabwe 2-1 on Friday.
Goalkeeper Charles Thom made his senior debut after replacing Ernest Kakhobwe, who missed the match due to malaria.
Defender Lawrence Chaziya replaced injured captain Limbikani Mzava whereas Micium Mhone started in place of Richard Mbulu.
Thom was the toast of the night after he made several saves to deny the Senegalese.
No wonder, the Silver Strikers youthful goalkeeper was named man-of-the-match on his debut.
The notable saves being denying Habib Diallo and Idrissa Gueye in the second half.
Malawi also had a penalty appeal turned down by VAR after substitute Yamikani Chester was fouled.
In the first half, Senegal started the match on a high but Sadio Mane missed the golden opportunity.
On the other hand, Flames striker Gabadinho Mhango was a constant threat throughout the match. However, Flames defence comprising Chaziya, Stanley Sanudi, Gomezgani Chirwa and Chembezi was solid.
After the match, Marinica was pleased with the performance of the team.
“It was a good performance from the boys. Senegal are a tough team but we managed to contain them,” he said.
Prior to the match, President Lazarus Chakwera had dangled a carrot to Flames players if they reached round of 16 of the continental showpiece.
The Number One citizen promised to honour each member of the first team with K1 million and half the amount for the players who were on the bench in yesterday’s match against Senegal.
“The President pledges to honour each member of the Flames (who played) in the Group B qualifiers match with K1 million, whilst the reserve squad will be honoured with K500,000 each,” reads part of the statement from Presidential Press Secretary, Anthony Kasunda.