By Mabvuto Kambuwe
End of the road. Malawi national football team has, as expected, missed out on Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualification after a 2-1 loss to Comoros Islands at Stade de Moroni Saturday.
Following Morocco’s 2-0 victory over the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon on Friday night, the Flames needed a win to keep their dreams alive but went down to end their journey on a sad note.
Morocco are at the summit of Group B with 10 points from five games whereas Cameroon are second on eight points from the same number of games.
The Flames anchor the group with just four points from five games whereas Comoros have moved up to position three with five points from the same number of games.
By virtue of being hosts, Cameroon have already qualified for the finals alongside leaders Morocco.
Malawi host Morocco in the last game of the qualifiers which will be a ceremonial match at Kamuzu Stadium in March next year whereas Cameroon will meet Comoros.
In a game monitored on Times Radio, it took just one minute for the hosts to find the back of the net through Mohamed Fardou Ben who netted from a free kick, beating goalkeeper Charles Swini.
But the Flames had some chances to score through Chiukepo Msowoya and Gastin Simkonda but the leading TNM Super League goalscorers were wasteful in front of goal.
Msowoya squandered two golden chances including missing in a man-to-man situation. The two teams went for recess with the hosts leading 1-0. But the Flames came back a changed side and pushed for an equaliser.
Substitute Patrick Phiri, who came for Gastin Simkonda, gave Malawi false hopes when he scored the equaliser after 17 minutes in the second half.
But the joyful moment was shortlived as Comoros restored the lead two minutes later to end Flames’ hopes of making it to next year’s finals to be staged in Cameroon.
In the absence of striker Gabadinho Mhango and John Banda, Flames Coach Ronny van Geneugden started the game with a three-pronged frontline comprising Msowoya, Simkonda and Richard Mbulu but the trio failed to find the target.
It was once again another sad ending for the Flames in the Afcon qualifiers. Malawi last qualifed for the Afcon finals in 2010 in Angola under the tutelage of Kinnah Phiri.
Flames assistant Coach, Peter Mponda, said there is hope in the squad despite missing the qualification.
“We conceded an early goal which disturbed us but after that, we took the game to them and we got the goal. Unfortunately, we conceded another goal which completely ended our hopes. It is painful for us but the players tried their best,” Mponda said.
Starting line ups: Malawi-Swini, Stanley Sanudi, Peter Cholopi, John Lanjesi, Precious Sambani, Alfred Manyozo Jnr, Levison Maganizo, Yamikani Chester, Mbulu, Simkonda, Msowoya.
Comoros-Boina Ben, Abdou Nadjim, Alhadhur Chaker, Bachirou Fouad, Changama Yousouf, M’Dahoma Kassim, Chamed Nasser, Assana Aadil, Bakari Said, Abdallah Kassim, Fardou
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues