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Flames, Lesotho in stalemate

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By Mabvuto Kambuwe:

Malawi national football team and Lesotho played out a 1-1 draw in a friendly match at Sesotho Stadium in Maseru, Lesotho, Sunday.

The Flames had to come from behind to cancel out Lesotho’s 83rd opener through Hassan Kajoke who scored from a goal mouth scramble two minutes to full time.

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Kajoke made amends after his penalty was saved in the 61st minute when he came on as a substitute in the second half.

Malawi Coach Meck Mwase maintained the team which defeated Botswana 1-0 in a 2022 World Cup preliminary round qualifier.

But the Flames struggled against the hosts and were lucky to end the first half without conceding as the hosts wasted several scoring opportunities.

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Lesotho dominated the proceedings but Malawi’s first chance of the game came after 28 minutes through John Banda whose shot was saved by the Sotho goalkeeper.

At the half-hour mark, the Flames defence was torn apart as Likuena exchanged passes failed to beat Brighton Munthali in a one-on-one encounter.

United States-based Flames attacker Yamikani Chester was quite in the first half but won a free kick in the 40th minute which Gerald Phiri Junior sent over the bar.

After recess, Mwase made five changes, substituting Munthali for Enerst Kakhobwe, Gerald Phiri Junior for Micium Mhone, Gabadinho Mhango for Kajoke, Chimwemwe Idana for Chimango Kaira and Richard Mbulu for Robin Ngalande.

The move brought some life into the Flames’ attack and in the 61st minute, they were awarded a penalty after Lesotho skipper Makepe handled.

However, substitute Kajoke’s weak penalty was saved by the Lesotho goalkeeper.

The hosts also made three changes after 17 minutes in the second half when they brought in Fothoane, Lerothole and Tsepo for Jane, Lisema and Marabe, respectively.

It took about 20 minutes for Lesotho to test Kakhobwe and the Nyasa Big Bullets custodian saved Malawi when he parried Kalake’s volley.

The hosts finally found the back of the net in the 83rd minute from the penalty spot through Mlompho who sent Kakhobwe the wrong way.

Malawi conceded the spot kick after poor communication between Kakhobwe and defender Charles Petro who fouled a Lesotho striker.

In post-match interview, Mwase said he was not happy with his players’ performance.

“We brought our strongest squad but when the name friendly comes into play, this is what you see. We did not play our usual game but these are some of the areas we are going to look into,” Mwase said.

The Flames used the game to prepare for the upcoming 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifiers.

Malawi were drawn in Group B of the Afcon qualifiers alongside Burkina Faso, Uganda and South Sudan. They also qualified for the group stages of the World Cup qualifiers after eliminating Botswana 1-0 on aggregate last month.

Flames’ starting line-up:

Munthali, Sambani, Cholopi, Petro, Sanudi, Chester, Banda, Idana, Phiri Junior, Mhango, Mbulu.

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