The Flames are out of contention for a place at the TotalEnergies AFCON 2023 following their 0-0 draw with Ethiopia on Tuesday evening at Zimpeto Stadium in Maputo, Mozambique.
Malawi needed a win at all costs to stand a chance of sneaking through if they beat Guinea by a two-goal margin in September.
But the result in Maputo has left the Flames on third position with four points and with a match to play they can only accumulate a maximum of seven points , two short of second placed Guinea and five behind group winners Egypt.
This means Guinea join Egypt on the flight to Ivory Coast next year.
Flames Coach Patrick Mabedi said the result was disappointing as the team did not play according to plan.
“ We started on a wrong foot and we were rushing things. We were supposed to be a little bit patient on the ball. But we lost it and gave away possession cheaply.
“ We sat back a lot and didn’t take the game to them. We were the ones that needed this match most but we stayed deep too much.
“ This was an easy game but we made life difficult for ourselves. But this is over,we now have to look at the future and continue with the project we have started of rebuilding the team,” said Mabedi.
Despite not finding the back of the net Malawi had more chances than Ethiopia.
In the 11th minute Chawanangwa Kaonga got the Flames first chance of the afternoon when he beat his marker on the right after being set by Idana but his shot was saved by keeper Seid Habtamu for a corner kick.
Eight minutes later Yamikani Chester made a good run towards Ethiopia goal and was brought down outside the 18-yard box for a free kick. He took the set piece setting Alick Lungu whose shot went over the bar.
Malawi got another chance in the 24th minute after Mbulu won a corner kick which Lungu perfectly delivered to find Dennis Chembezi whose header went slightly over the bar.
In the first half added time defender Nixon Mwase almost handed the Flames the lead but his header was cleared by Habtamu.
Mabedi made two half time changes bringing in Chikumbutso Salima and Gaddi Chirwa for Chester and Kawonga.
Then 10 minutes later he brought in Chifundo Mphasa for Richard Mbulu before throwing in Lloyd Njaliwa for Chimwemwe Idana with seven minutes to go but it remained goalless at full time.
Flames Line Up: Brighton Munthali 1; Stanley Sanudi 12,Dennis Chembezi 5,Nickson Mwase 7,Alick Lungu 12; John Banada (c) 17, Yamikani Chester 10 ( Chikumbutso Salima 45’),Chimwemwe Idana 8 ( Lyoid Njaliwa 83’);Lanjesi Nkhoma 19,Chawanangwa Kawonga 11 ( Gaddi Chirwa 45’),Richard Mbulu 9 (Chifundo Mphasa 54’)
Substitutes: Innocent Nyasulu 16,Lawrence Chaziya 15, Daniel Chimbalanga 3,Blessings Mpokera 4, Patrick Macheso 22, Loyd Aron 24,Robert Saizi 21,Chikumbutso Salima 23,Loyd Njaliwa 14,Gaddie Chirwa 18,Chifundo Mphasi 12